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).