Mountmellick has scored the poorest out of Laois’ seven big towns for it’s economic strength, in a nationwide analysis by Teagasc.
The survey is based on employment and the level of migration to small towns with a population above 1,500, as recorded in the 2011 Census.
Mountmellick came in at 270 out of 302 towns surveyed.
Graiguecullen beside Carlow town scored best in Laois, at number 68 nationally.
Second best was Abbeyleix, ranked at 113, then Portlaoise at 151, Mountrath 183, Portarlington 186 and Stradbally in 221st position nationwide.
Overall Laois was ranked 17th out of the 26 counties in the republic, with neighbouring Offaly the weakest, and Sligo the best off.
Portlaoise town was dead centre nationwide, coming 151st out of 302 towns surveyed across Ireland.
The poorest town nationally was Bunclody in Wexford.
Presenting the Teagasc Index of Rural Towns, Prof O’Donoghue said “Rural Towns and their immediate hinterlands account for about a third of the population and have been affected to a greater extent by the economic crisis in terms of unemployment.”
He noted huge variation between towns.
“The weakest towns also have a larger proportion of unoccupied housing” he said.
The Commission for the Development of Rural Areas (CEDRA) are to publish recommendations for rural economic development later this week.