poorest county in kentucky

Magoffin County Ranked 114th Poorest County In Kentucky

Sometimes it is difficult to be proud of where you are from. Seeing Magoffin County, my home, being ranked as one of the poorest counties in Kentucky is a hard pill to swallow. According to 2010 data from the United States Census, Magoffin County is ranked 114th out of 120 counties. This ranking reflects significant economic challenges that the community faces.

Magoffin County Rankings
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The Economic Challenges of Magoffin County

Growing up in a small town with hardly anything, I never felt that life was terrible as a kid. Sure, in our old house, I could see the dirt in one of the rooms, and the ceiling was caving in. However, my mother had one of the “better jobs” in Magoffin County. Despite her efforts, she always made just enough to not qualify for food stamps.

Magoffin County might not be the poorest county in Kentucky, but it certainly faces significant economic challenges. Let’s explore why it ranks so low and what can be done to improve the situation.

The Job Market in Magoffin County: A Closer Look

As an adult living in Magoffin County, I’ve often wondered where everyone works. A few are teachers or doctors, but most people seem to commute hours away for work, whether it’s for pipeline jobs or at the Toyota plant in Georgetown, Kentucky.

In my 20s, I worked at the only factory in town, Joy Global (Continental Conveyor for older people). Layoffs were common, occurring almost every other year depending on the coal industry’s fluctuations. Eventually, the plant closed and was replaced by Logan Construction. To this day, it’s the only factory where one can make decent wages. I’m assuming starting out is below $15/hr.

The only other jobs available are at the nursing home, dollar stores, and gas stations, which often pay minimum wage or slightly above. The median family income in Magoffin County is around $38,000, reflecting the limited job opportunities.

Addressing Misconceptions About Eastern Kentucky

A controversial article from the New York Times titled What’s the Matter with Eastern Kentucky paints an inaccurate picture of life here. It assumes everyone living in Eastern KY is ignorant, redneck, and/or racist. People from New York City, who have never experienced rural life, cannot understand the peace and community that Eastern Kentucky offers.

Eastern Kentucky is NOT THAT BAD…

Living in Eastern Kentucky provides peace and quiet, a stark contrast to city life. While it may take longer to get to town, the trade-off is having your own space to enjoy the outdoors. Growing up here taught me to appreciate the simple life.

The Future of Magoffin County: Hope and Opportunities

Living in Eastern Kentucky isn’t as bad as big-city people imagine. However, to make a living now that the coal industry has hit rock bottom, you either have to move away or commute. I’ve chosen to move away and focus on the technology field.

Magoffin County’s main issue is the lack of jobs. The expansion of the Mountain Parkway might help with this, but only time will tell. Despite being ranked at the bottom, I remain hopeful that my hometown can eventually turn things around.


Magoffin County faces significant economic challenges, but the community’s resilience and spirit offer hope for the future. With potential developments like the Mountain Parkway expansion, there are opportunities for growth and prosperity. As someone who grew up in this region, I remain optimistic about what lies ahead for Magoffin County.

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