Sometimes is difficult to be proud of where you are from. Seeing Magoffin County, my home, being ranked one of the poorest counties in Kentucky is a hard pill to swallow. In 2010 data by the United States Census Magoffin County comes ranked 114th out of 120 counties. Which is just terrible…
Out of 120, Magoffin is below its Neighboring County Jackson.
Growing up in a small town with hardly anything, I never felt like life was terrible as a kid. Sure, in our old house, I could see the dirt in one of the rooms, and the ceiling where caving in. But, my mother actually had one of the “better jobs” in Magoffin County. As there weren’t many, to begin with, she did the very best she could. She would always make just enough to not qualify for food stamps.
Magoffin County might not be the poorest county in Kentucky, but we will look to see why it is indeed the POOR in this article.
No Jobs in Magoffin County
As an adult living in Magoffin County, I’ve always wondered where everyone works that have a decent-sized house, and a RZR in their backyard. I’ve never really been able to figure it out.
A few are teachers, and there are very few doctors. But, for the most part, it seems that people are commuting hours away. Whether pipe lining or traveling to the Toyota plant in Georgetown, Kentucky.
In my 20’s, I worked at the only factory in town, Joy Global (Continental Conveyor for older people). In this job, the layoff was a common occurrence almost every other year. If coal was up, you had a job. If coal was down… you were at the unemployment office.
Eventually, they closed the Joy Global plant in Magoffin County. It is now Logan Construction. To this day the only factory available to work at and make decent living wages. I’m assuming starting out is below $15/hr.
The only other positions are working at the nursing home, dollar stores, and gas stations, which might pay minimum wage or barely above. As I said, there is just not much there.
The Median Family Income in Magoffin county is around $38,000.
Working full-time at Joy Global for $12/hr and putting in overtime, I never earned anywhere near that. $38,000 is the most recent data available. However, the family income includes everyone in the household, so maybe their spouse or significant other is working a part-time job bringing the total up.
So people are commuting or working out of state, away from their families for weeks on end to try to make ends meet.
People Have Shoes and Not Everyone Is Pregnant
A stupid article from the New York Times – What’s the matter with Eastern Kentucky
Is by far one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read in my life. This article assumes everyone living in Eastern KY is ignorant, redneck, and/or racist. They think the only way to a happy life is to have skyscrapers and a Starbucks with a $10 cup of coffee nearby.
People from New York City who have never seen anything but their studio apartment, 50-floors up in the sky, are completely clueless about what it’s like to live out in the country. They have no idea what it’s like to drive up and down a gravel road, up a “holler,” to go see one of your best friends in the middle of nowhere.
Eastern Kentucky is NOT THAT BAD...
If there is one thing that Eastern KY living can give you, it’s peace and quiet. You’re not surrounded by people 10ft from your house. Sure, it might take you 20 minutes to go to town and pick up some groceries, but the trade-off is, you get to have your own outdoors to run and play.
Maybe I’m different because I grew up there. But I enjoy being out in the country and not surrounded by a house, apartment, or cars 5 feet from my driveway. Don’t get me wrong, I lived in a sub-division in Winchester, KY.
I was surrounded by people and places to eat and work. So it has its perks. I didn’t have to travel 25 minutes to the closest IGA, to get a pack of hamburgers or a loaf of bread. My commute to work would’ve been 5 minutes if it weren’t for stoplights. But I’m willing to make that trade.
The truth is some people choose not to move away from their families. It is hard. I get it. I hate being away from my family and friends. But you rarely see them anyways when you work. Most, if not everyone, travels to their job or is working anyway.
Most people choose to stay, as they have land and a home built already. It’s tough to just up and move. That’s the true story of what it’s like living in Eastern KY.
Poorest County in Kentucky: Conclusion
Living in Eastern Kentucky isn’t as bad as the big-city people like to imagine. But, 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’s, much like much of Eastern Ky’s problem is, it doesn’t have JOBS. The expansion of the Mountain Parkway might help with that at least that’s the rumor going around.
Only time will tell, but for now Magoffin County you are ranked at the bottom of the list. It’s sad to see this happen to my home town but I’m hopeful they can eventually turn it around.
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