|— City —|
Location of Laurel in the State of Mississippi
|- Mayor||Melvin Mack (elected as the first African American mayor of Laurel in 2005)|
|- Total||15.8 sq mi (40.8 km2)|
|- Land||15.4 sq mi (40.0 km2)|
|- Water||0.3 sq mi (0.9 km2)|
|Elevation||269 ft (82 m)|
|- Density||1,192.3/sq mi (460.2/km2)|
|Time zone||CST (UTC-6)|
|- Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|GNIS feature ID||0672321|
Laurel is a city located in Jones County in Mississippi, a state of the United States of America. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 18,393 although a significant population increase has been reported following Hurricane Katrina. Located in southeast Mississippi, southeast of Jackson on Tallahala Creek, Laurel was founded in 1882 as a lumber town. An American Indian reservation is located in nearby Sandersville.
Laurel is the principal city of the Laurel Micropolitan Statistical Area. Its major employers include Howard Industries, Sanderson Farms, Masonite Corporation, Family Health Center, Howse Implement, Thermo-Kool and South Central Regional Medical Center. Laurel is home to the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art (Mississippi's oldest art museum).
The City of Laurel is served by the Laurel School District, which has five campuses and a total enrollment of approximately 3,100. The Jones County School District also provides education for Laurel students.
Amtrak's Crescent train connects Laurel with the cities of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Charlotte, Atlanta, Birmingham and New Orleans. The Amtrak station is situated at 230 North Maple Street.
Laurel is the birthplace and/or primary residence of many celebrities.
Laurel is located at 31°41'51" North, 89°8'22" West (31.697412, -89.139315).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.8 square miles (40.8 km²), of which, 15.4 square miles (40.0 km²) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.9 km²) of it is water. The total area of Laurel is 2.09% water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 18,393 people, 6,925 households, and 4,542 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,192.3 people per square mile (460.2/km²). There were 7,804 housing units at an average density of 505.9/sq mi (195.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 40.64% White, 55.08% African American, 0.11% Native American, 0.33% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 3.17% from other races, and 0.67% from two or more races. 3.87% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There has been a steady influx of Hispanic migrant labor in the last few years, most of them being employed at Howard Industries, Sanderson Farms and independent labor. Companies in the area tend to recruit foreign workers due to the benefits of the federal government subsidizing their cost for training of those on worker visas. Those on visas also tend to be paid substantially less. There has been some debate regarding the legal status of the majority of these workers, particularly after Immigration Customs and Enforcement arrested nearly 600 suspected illegal immigrants at the Howard Industries plant on August 26, 2008.
There were 6,925 households out of which 29.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.2% were married couples living together, 23.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.4% were non-families. 30.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.21.
In the city the population was spread out with 27.9% under the age of 18, 10.1% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 17.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 85.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.5 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $25,988, and the median income for a family was $30,185. Males had a median income of $27,077 versus $17,336 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,561. 28.9% of the population and 21.4% of families were below the poverty line. 37.5% of those under the age of 18 and 19.3% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.