TO THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS
Update of Statistical Area Definitions and Additional
Guidance on Their Uses
Purpose: This bulletin updates and supersedes OMB
Bulletin No. 03-04, issued on June 6, 2003. The attachment to the bulletin
provides the detailed information on the update of statistical areas
since that time. These changes to the statistical areas take effect
immediately. The bulletin highlights in a separate list in its appendix
the Metropolitan Statistical Areas that have Metropolitan Divisions.
Additional guidance is provided to Federal agencies that use the definitions
of these statistical areas for program administrative and fund allocation
Background: Pursuant to 44 U.S.C. 3504(e)(3) and
31 U.S.C. 1104(d) and Executive Order No. 10253 (June 11, 1951), the
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) defines Metropolitan Statistical
Areas, Micropolitan Statistical Areas, Combined Statistical Areas, and
New England City and Town Areas for use in Federal statistical activities.
These areas, as well as principal cities, will be updated annually to
reflect changes in population estimates.
Update of Statistical Areas: This bulletin provides
the definitions of all Metropolitan Statistical Areas, Metropolitan
Divisions, Micropolitan Statistical Areas, Combined Statistical Areas,
and New England City and Town Areas in the United States and Puerto
Rico based on the standards published on December 27, 2000, in the Federal
Register (65 FR 82228 - 82238) and Census 2000 data as well as
Census Bureau population estimates for 2001 and 2002. The attachment
provides updated information for the statistical areas and principal
cities. The appendix to this bulletin provides the lists of statistical
areas that are recognized under the standards.
Guidance on Uses of Statistical Area Definitions:
All agencies that conduct statistical activities to collect and publish
data for Metropolitan, Micropolitan, and Combined Statistical Areas,
and New England City and Town Areas should use the most recent definitions
of these areas established by OMB.
OMB establishes and maintains the definitions of Metropolitan and Micropolitan
Statistical Areas, Combined Statistical Areas, and New England City
and Town Areas solely for statistical purposes. This classification
is intended to provide nationally consistent definitions for collecting,
tabulating, and publishing Federal statistics for a set of geographic
areas. The Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Area Standards
do not equate to an urban-rural classification; many counties included
in Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas, and many other counties,
contain both urban and rural territory and populations.
Nonstatistical Program Uses of the Statistical Area Definitions. In
periodically reviewing and revising the definitions of these areas,
OMB does not take into account or attempt to anticipate any nonstatistical
uses that may be made of the definitions, nor will OMB modify the definitions
to meet the requirements of any nonstatistical program. Thus, OMB cautions
that Metropolitan Statistical Area and Micropolitan Statistical Area
definitions should not be used to develop and implement Federal, state,
and local nonstatistical programs and policies without full consideration
of the effects of using these definitions for such purposes. These areas
are not intended to serve as a general-purpose geographic framework
for nonstatistical activities, and they may or may not be suitable for
use in program funding formulas.
OMB recognizes that some legislation specifies the use of Metropolitan
Statistical Areas for program purposes, including the allocation of
Federal funds, and will continue to work with the Congress to clarify
the foundations of these definitions and the resultant, often unintended
consequences of their use for nonstatistical purposes.
In cases where there is no statutory requirement and an agency elects
to use the Metropolitan, Micropolitan, or Combined Statistical Area
definitions in nonstatistical programs, it is the sponsoring agency's
responsibility to ensure that the definitions are appropriate for such
use. When an agency is publishing for comment a proposed regulation
that would use the definitions for a nonstatistical purpose, the agency
should seek public comment on the proposed use.
An agency using the statistical definitions in a nonstatistical program
may modify the definitions, but only for the purposes of that program.
In such cases, any modifications should be clearly identified as deviations
from the OMB statistical area definitions in order to avoid confusion
with OMB’s official definitions of Metropolitan, Micropolitan,
and Combined Statistical Areas.
In addition, in light of recent changes to the statistical area definitions,
OMB urges Federal agencies that use the statistical areas for allocating
program funds to provide information to the public on their plans and
schedules for using the new definitions.
Federal agencies that use the statistical area definitions for nonstatistical
program purposes should note that the 2000 standards changed the terminology
used for classifying the areas. Under the 1980 and 1990 standards there
were two types of areas: (1) Metropolitan Statistical Areas and (2)
Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Areas that consisted of Primary
Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The terms “Consolidated Metropolitan
Statistical Area” and “Primary Metropolitan Statistical
Area” are now obsolete.
Under the 2000 standards, “Metropolitan Statistical Area”
and “Micropolitan Statistical Area” are the terms used for
the basic set of county-based areas defined under this classification.
In addition, the term “Metropolitan Division” is used to
refer to a county or group of counties within a Metropolitan Statistical
Area that has a population core of at least 2.5 million. A Metropolitan
Division is most generally comparable in concept, and equivalent to,
the now obsolete Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area.
While a Metropolitan Division is a subdivision of a larger Metropolitan
Statistical Area, it often functions as a distinct social, economic,
and cultural area with the larger region. Metropolitan Divisions retain
their separate statistical identities. Federal agencies will continue
to provide detailed data for each Metropolitan Division, just as they
did in the past for the Primary Metropolitan Statistical Areas.
If Federal agencies have been using the Primary Metropolitan Statistical
Area for program administrative and fund allocation purposes, they should
now consider using the Metropolitan Division definitions, the comparable
geographic units of the classification based on the 2000 standards.
Research and analyses that previously used data for Primary Metropolitan
Statistical Areas should now use data for Metropolitan Divisions. Data
users and analysts interested in demographic and economic patterns,
trends, and processes within large Metropolitan Statistical Areas should
consider data for specific Metropolitan Divisions when conducting analyses.
Users making comparisons with areas defined under the 1990 standards
should note that when the 2000 standards were applied, the result, in
some cases, was to create several areas from an existing Metropolitan
Statistical Area. The resulting reconfigured areas may also qualify
under the 2000 standards to form a complementary Combined Statistical
Area, while retaining their separate designations as Metropolitan or
Micropolitan Statistical Areas. In these situations, the Combined Statistical
Area may be the approximate geographic equivalent of the previous Metropolitan
Statistical Area, and thus may be the more appropriate geographic unit
for analytic and program purposes.
Federal agencies will be making economic and demographic data available
for Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas, Metropolitan Divisions,
New England City and Town Areas, and Combined Statistical Areas. Because
of sample sizes and associated data quality and confidentiality issues,
there may be instances where agencies will produce data only at the
level of Combined Statistical Areas.
Electronic Availability of Metropolitan, Micropolitan, and
Combined Statistical Areas and New England City and Town Area Definitions:
This bulletin is available electronically from the OMB web
site at /OMB
-- go to “Bulletins” or “Statistical Programs and
Standards.” The 2000 Standards for Defining Metropolitan and Micropolitan
Statistical Areas are available at /omb/fedreg/metroareas122700.pdf.
(Historical definitions of Metropolitan Statistical Areas are available
from the Census Bureau’s web site at: http://www.census.gov.
Inquiries: Inquiries concerning the Metropolitan
and Micropolitan Statistical Area Standards and the statistical uses
of their definitions should be directed to Suzann Evinger (202-395-3093).
Inquiries about uses of the statistical area definitions in program
administration or regulation should be directed to the appropriate agency.
Metropolitan Statistical Areas, Metropolitan Divisions,
Micropolitan Statistical Areas, Combined Statistical Areas, New England
City And Town Areas, Combined New England City And Town Areas as of
December 2003, Lists 1 through 9