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Mississippi is one of the nation's most beautiful states. Home to some of the most hospitable and friendly people in the United States, the Magnolia State is certainly one of the nation's gems.
However, is it all roses in Mississippi? Not at all. With every great place there, there's another one that's not so awesome. The purpose of this post is to find out, once and for all, which places in Mississippi are truly the worst. And we used scientific data to figure it all out.
Meaning, no arguing here. This is all based on science and it's unbiased.
After analyzing all 62 of the state's most populous cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst places in Mississippi:
What? Where are these places you wonder? And before you get all riled up and say we're picking on small town America, that's not the case.
We understand there's a lot of good in every place.
However, according to data (which doesn't measure things like beauty and 'friendly people'), there are far better options in the state for making a place home. And the worst place to live in Mississippi? That would be Forest.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2021.
For more Mississippi reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In Mississippi
- Cheapest Places To Live In Mississippi
- Most Dangerous Cities In Mississippi
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Mississippi For 2021
Located about 45 minutes east of Jackson, Forest lives up to its name. It's located inside the Bienville National Forest, making the area a draw for tourists and giving its 5,629 residents access to plenty of outdoor fun.
There are downsides, though. Given its remote location, the area suffers from a lack of housing and a difficult job market. A weak education system and a scarcity of amenities also causes problems.
The unemployment rate in the region comes in at 9.9%. Meanwhile, the median income equals $27,165. Schools in the region are mediocre at best, topping out at a score of 6/10 on Great Schools.
Louisville, Kentucky, is one of the main metropolitan areas of that state. Louisville, Mississippi...not so much. In fact, this town of 6,124 residents is located in a rural part of the Magnolia State, more than an hour and a half away from Jackson. This Louisville is also one of the most unappealing locations in all of Mississippi.
What makes Louisville so bad? Well, the area faces challenges related to jobs, housing, and education. The unemployment rate runs 9.8% and the median income sits at $31,272.
Locals do get some benefit from their isolated location. The town is situated just south of the beautiful Tombigbee National Forest.
Little Holly Springs, located near the Tennessee state line, is getting even smaller. The population here has shrunk 3% since the last census, and you can probably tell why when you look at the numbers.
Families earn almost less than any other cities in Mississippi at $27,190, and homes only cost $85,200. However, on the bright side, Holly Springs has the best weather of any other Mississippi city, measured in terms of humidity, sunny days and rain. So they have that going for them.
Gulfport has a great location, sitting (as the name implies) along Mississippi's Gulf Coast. It features access to beach and water entertainment, as well as other recreational options. For instance, the Island View Casino Resort is located in town.
As a result of these amenities, Gulfport draws its share of tourists. However, for the locals, it represents a tough place to make a living. These economic woes make the town of 71,676 residents one of the worst places in Mississippi to put down roots.
Despite the attractions for vacationers, there aren't many economic opportunities in town. The unemployment rate sits at 11.6%. At the same time, the local median income hovers at $39,171, and 26.3% of people struggle on the wrong side of the poverty line.
Actually, despite its name, West Point is located in the eastern part of the state. For a town of just 10,626 people, it features a strong cultural history.
However, day-to-day life in West Point can present a struggle. A lack of jobs and a high crime rate create problems. The unemployment rate runs to 11.1% and 30.6% of the residents live below the poverty line. Meanwhile, the crime rate tracks about 30% above the national average.
There are other problems in town as well. Education and housing are also concerns. Even the best local schools only rate a 5/10 on Great Schools.
Located along I-59 in the southwestern part of the state, Picayune gets its name from a newspaper, the New Orleans Daily Picayune. (The word itself comes from the name of a type of Spanish coin.) Picayune is located about an hour north of the Crescent City.
This city of 11,040 residents has major economic issues. Its unemployment rate stands at 13.8%. With a median income of $30,006, 33.3% of folks make due with sub-poverty wages.
Despite these challenges, Picayune has its charms.
Moss Point sits in the southeast part of the state, just north of Pascagoula, near the Gulf Coast. Biloxi lies about a half hour to the west, while a 40-minute drive east will take you to Mobile, Alabama.
The location does provide great access to the water. The 13,451 residents of the town can head over to the Grand Bay Savanna Coastal Preserve to take in the local national beauty. Unfortunately, a weak economy makes this one of the worst places in Mississippi to put down roots.
A lack of jobs acts as the main cause of concern in the area. The unemployment sits at 8.5%, while the median income hovers at $42,173. Meanwhile, there are also worries related to housing and education.
Situated in a rural part of east-central Mississippi, Kosciusko suffers from a lack of good-paying jobs. The town's median income comes in a just $26,632, while the unemployment rate sits at 13.5%. Thanks to these figures, Kosciusko ranks as the number 8 least enticing spot in the state.
While a flailing economy causes most of the problems for the area, it suffers from a list of other issues as well. Housing, safety, and education also present challenges for the town's 6,855 residents.
Don't assume that everything about Kosciusko is terrible. The area has its selling points as well. The town acts as the county seat and provides a home for the annual Central Mississippi Fair.
Philadelphia has a troubled history. In the 1960s, it was the site of the infamous murders of three civil rights workers. A different set of troubles haunts the town in the 21st century. Today, it stands as the number 9 most unappealing hometown in Mississippi.
A dismal economy provides the main challenge for the town's 7,218 inhabitants. Local jobs only generate a median income of $32,818. At the same time, the unemployment rate hangs at a frightening 16.3%. Education and housing are also concerns for the area.
Philadelphia has some bright spots. Counteracting those notorious murders, the area has other, more upbeat, history to commemorate.
Straddling I-59 in the southeastern part of the state, Laurel boasts an impressive nickname: "The City Beautiful." There is some truth to this title. The city of 18,508 people features a well-known Central Historic District.
Unfortunately, day-to-day life in Laurel isn't so pretty. A struggling economy and an elevated crime rate make this one of the least enticing locations in Mississippi.
The statistics tell most of the story. The unemployment rate sits at 8.1% and the median income comes in at $31,968. Meanwhile, the crime rate runs more than double the national average. Housing and education also present difficulties for the people of Laurel.
How we determined the worst places to live in Mississippi for 2021
To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.
We don't think it's a stretch to assume that people like the following things:
- Good education
- Lots of jobs
- Low crime
- Low poverty
- Nice homes
- High incomes
- High population density (Lots of things to do)
- Short work commutes
- Health insurance
We broke crime down into violent crime and property crime to give violent crime a larger weight -- if you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are normally 7x more common and really bias that ranking.
Furthermore, only cities with at least 5,000 people were considered -- leaving 62 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 62 for all the criteria with a #1 ranking being the worst for the particular criteria.
Next, we averaged the rankings into one "Worst Place To Live Score".
Finally, we ranked every city on the "Worst Place To Live Score" with the lowest score being the worst city in Mississippi -- Forest. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Mississippi. You can download the data here.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
Wrapping Up The Worst In Mississippi
If you're looking at areas in Mississippi with the worst economic situations, where there's higher than average crime, and not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
And in the end, Forest ranks as the worst city to live in Mississippi for 2021.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Mississippi:
- Ocean Springs (Pop. 17,729)
- Brandon (Pop. 23,930)
- Madison (Pop. 25,592)
For more Mississippi reading, check out:
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Mississippi?