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Laurel is a city in Jones County, Mississippi, United States. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 18,393 although a significant population increase was reported following Hurricane Katrina.
Laurel is the principal city of the Laurel Micropolitan Statistical Area. Its major employers include Howard Industries, Sanderson Farms, Masonite, 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).
Laurel was founded in 1882 as a lumber town.
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 (41 km2), of which 15.4 square miles (40 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2) 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 per square mile (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.
- City Officials
- Melvin Mack – Mayor elected as the first African American mayor of Laurel in 2005
- Dennis Keveryn – City Administrator
- Willie Lavonne Evans – Ward 1 Councilman
- Tony Wheat – Ward 2 Councilman
- Tony Thaxton – Ward 3 Councilman
- George Carmichael – Ward 4 Councilman
- Manuel L. Jones – Ward 5 Councilman
- Johnny Magee – Ward 6 Councilman
- Trey Chinn – Ward 7 Councilman
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-area students.
- Immaculate Conception School (now closed)
- Laurel Christian School
- Laurel Christian High School
- St. John's Day School  (part of the Episcopal Church)
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.
- Major highways
Laurel is the birthplace and/or primary residence of many celebrities.
- Jake Allen (born 1985), NFL player for the Cleveland Browns
- Lance Bass (born 1979), pop singer and member of 'N Sync, born in Laurel
- Marsha Blackburn (born 1952), Congresswoman from Tennessee
- Ralph Boston (born 1939), Olympic Gold Medalist
- Jason Campbell (born 1981), Chicago Bears quarterback
- Mary Elizabeth Ellis, actress
- Ed Hinton (born 1948), sportswriter
- Robert Hyatt, computer science professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and author of the computer chess program Crafty
- Mark Landis (born 1955), art dealer, philanthropist, alleged donor of art forgeries to 43 museums in 20 states since 1987, used aliases Steven Gardiner and Father Arthur Scott
- Tom Lester (born 1938), actor who played "Eb" on the sitcom Green Acres
- Ruby Lovett (born 1967), country music singer-songwriter
- Mundell Lowe (born 1922), an American jazz guitarist and music composer of film and television, was born in Laurel
- Doug Marlette (1949–2007), Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, lived in Laurel as a child
- Chris McDaniel (born 1972), an attorney, conservative commentator and a Republican politician in the Mississippi Senate
- Mary Mills (born 1940), professional golfer, U.S. Women's Open winner, born in Laurel
- Kenny Payne (born 1966), Former professional (NBA) basketball player and played on the 1986 NCAA National Championship team from Louisville. Assistant coach at the University of Oregon
- Charles W. Pickering (born 1937), Former Mississippi state senator and retired U.S. District Court Judge
- Chip Pickering (born 1963), Former United States representative from Mississippi's 3rd congressional district
- Stacey Pickering (born 1968), Mississippi State Auditor and cousin of Chip Pickering
- Clinton Portis (born 1981), former Washington Redskins running back
- Parker Posey (born 1968), actress and daughter of local Chevrolet retailer Chris Posey 
- Leontyne Price (born 1927), Internationally acclaimed opera star and leading soprano of the Metropolitan Opera 
- James Street (1903–1954), journalist, minister, and writer 
- Krystal Summers transgender actress, MC, performer, and entertainer. Born in Laurel.
- Ray Walston (1914–2001), actor (some sources claim he was born in New Orleans, where he spent his childhood) 
- Lloyd Wells, a country and jazz guitarist, grew up in Laurel and is an inductee of the Mississippi Music Hall of Fame. 
- Frank Gardiner Wisner (1909–1965) head of Office of Strategic Services operations in southeastern Europe at the end of World War II, and head of the Directorate of Plans of the CIA during the 1950s
In addition, the fictional character Blanche DuBois of Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire is described as having come from the Laurel area.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Tim, Gaynor (2008-08-26). "U.S. immigration cops nab 595 in largest-ever raid". reuters.com (Reuters). Retrieved 2008-08-27.
- "Post Office Location - LAUREL." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on November 1, 2010.
- "Post Office Location - CHOCTAW." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on November 1, 2010.
- "Contact Us." South Mississippi State Hospital. Retrieved on November 1, 2010. "SMSH Crisis Intervention Center 934 West Drive Laurel, MS 39440."
- "Contact." Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport. Retrieved on July 15, 2011. "Our Address Airport Director, 1002 Terminal Dr. Moselle, MS 39459"
- "Hattiesburg city, Mississippi." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on July 16, 2011.
- "Ralph Boston". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- "Jason Campbell". Yahoo. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- "Ed Hinton". CNN/Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- Alberge, Dalya (November 16, 2010). "'Jesuit priest' forger has fooled US museums for more than 20 years". Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- Stoilas, Helen (November 10, 2010). ""Jesuit priest" donates fraudulent works". The Art Newspaper. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- Kennedy, Randy (January 11, 2011). "Elusive Forger, Giving but Never Stealing". New York Times. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- Gapper, John (January 21, 2011). "The Forger's Story". The Financial Times. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
- Keel, Beverly (March 4, 2007). "Sharing His Faith". American Profile. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
- Rush, Diane Samms (March 24, 1998). "Ruby Lovett Writes About Her Own Life". The Ledger. Retrieved March 12, 2013.
- "Mississippi Musicians: Mundell Lowe". mswritersandmusicians.com. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
- "Cartoonist Doug Marlette dies in wreck". Raleigh News and Observer. Archived from the original on 2007-07-13. Retrieved 2007-07-16.
- McKee, Dale (April 15, 2012). "Jones County native Payne played key role in Kentucky's title quest". HattiesburgAmerican.com. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
- "Charles W. Pickering, Sr.". fjc.gov. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
- "Clinton Portis – Washington Redskins". sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved May 5, 2012.