National newspaper names Clay County hardest place to live in America

By Morgan Lentes | 

MANCHESTER, Ky (WYMT) - The hits keep coming! Eastern Kentucky is no stranger to bad publicity and some say a recent article from the New York Times is not helping.

The story published last week said Clay County as the hardest place to live in America based on a set of statistics. However, some locals disagree with that label.

No one is saying Clay County is perfect. But the hardest place to live in the nation? Clay County Schools Superintendent Amon Couch said not so fast.

"I was enraged because you just do not know if you have never lived here. How can you say that," said Couch.

Couch is referring to how the counties were ranked. The Times used factors like median household income, life expectancy and unemployment rates as indicators of how hard it is to live somewhere.

"Nobody is sweeping anything under the rug. People are actively partnering together to try to solve those problems," said Couch.

One of those people is Judge Executive Joe Asher, who knows residents are struggling.

"Gas prices, food prices and everything around you keeps going up and people that are on fixed income, it is rough on them. It is very rough on them," said Asher.

Still, both men tell WYMT there is a beauty to Clay County and eastern Kentucky in general that will always make it a wonderful place to live.

"If you are from Clay County or eastern Kentucky in general, if you want us to do something, tell us it cannot be done. We are a stubborn, hardheaded group of people who have had our backs against the wall before We love to prove people wrong," said Couch.

Clay was not the only county in eastern Kentucky to rank high on that list. In total, six counties in our region were among the ten hardest places to live in the nation. Those included: Breathitt, Clay, Jackson, Lee, Leslie and Magoffin.

WYMT reached out to the New York Times for comment but has not received a response at this time.

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