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Statistical Area Definitions - As of January 1, 2017

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is charged with the task of defining the statistical areas in the United States.  Statistical areas are used by economists and Federal agencies to measure economic activity.  For the most part the geographic boundaries identify where a preponderance of the people live and work, earn and spend. The major criteria for determining the boundaries are commuting patterns of the populace.

The last change to the statistical area definitions by the OMB was in July of 2015. Bulletin 15-01 provides the county based definitions for all Metropolitan, Micropolitan, and Combined areas.

Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) have at least one urbanized area of 50,000 or more population, plus adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured by commuting ties.  They must have at minimum one county and most of the time include several counties.

As of January 1, 2017 there are 382 Metropolitan Statistical Areas comprised of 1,167 of the 3,142 counties in the United States.

Micropolitan Statistical Areas (MICRO) are smaller areas. A Micropolitan area must have an urbanized area of at least 10,000 population but less than 50,000 population. It must be at least one county. 

As of January 1, 2017 there are 551Micropolitan Statistical Areas comprised of 658 of the 3,142 counties in the United States.

POLICOM utilizes maps of the states which show the statistical area boundaries for its research.  Maps have been generated for the Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas.

The lines on the maps point to the "metropolitan area" and not specifically to the location of the central city - the name of the area - which might be different than the point of the line.

The chart below provides links to the maps for each state.

POLICOM has combined all state maps into one PDF file which can be downloaded.