Statistical Area Definitions


There are 933 defined local economies - statistical areas - in the United States. The condition of a local economy can be determined by studying the data of these areas.


The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is charged with the task of defining the statistical areas in the United States.


To download the 158 page OMB Bulletin 15-01, which provides the county composition of all statistical areas, click here.


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.


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 551 Micropolitan 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. To download maps which show the statistical areas in all 50 states, click here.


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 federal government does not provide state maps which delineate the Metropolitan or Micropolitan areas to identify them visually.


POLICOM has created a map for each state and uses them in its research.


The following chart links you to the map for individual states.