Proposed urban area criteria for the 2010 census
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Proposed Urban Area Criteria for the 2010 Census. Urban and Rural Classification. The Census Bureau identifies and classifies urban and rural areas after each decennial census. Urban areas of at least 2,500 people have been identified since 1906.

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Urban and Rural Classification

  • The Census Bureau identifies and classifies urban and rural areas after each decennial census.

  • Urban areas of at least 2,500 people have been identified since 1906.

  • Urbanized areas of 50,000 or more people were first defined for the 1950 Census. Urban places of at least 2,500 people were identified outside urbanized areas. Urban clusters of 2,500 - 49,999 were first defined after Census 2000.

  • The Census Bureau identifies urban and rural areas solely for the purpose of tabulating and presenting statistical data.


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Urban Area Definitions

  • Represent densely developed territory, encompassing residential, commercial, and other non-residential urban land uses in which social and economic interactions occur.

  • Represent the “Urban Footprint”

  • Structure has been explicitly defined through measures based primarily on population counts and residential population density

  • Criteria have also accounted for non-residential urban land uses that are functionally part of the urban landscape


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Census 2000 Urban Areas

  • For Census 2000, an urban area consists of a densely settled core created from census block groups, census blocks, and the adjacent densely settled surrounding territory that together have a minimum population of 2,500 people

  • There are two types of urban areas: urbanized areas of 50,000 or more population and urban clusters of 2,500 – 49,999.




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2010 Urban Area Program

  • Remain committed to an objective, equitable, and consistent nationwide urban area delineation.

  • Retain decennial comparability by building upon 2000 criteria.

  • All potential modifications are refinements, or supplements to address deficiencies encountered for Census 2000.


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Initial Core Using Census Tract Analysis Units

Qualifying census tract ≥ 1,000 ppsm

560 ppsm

800 ppsm

Qualifying census tract ≥ 500 ppsm contiguous to initial core

550 ppsm

Census tract not contiguous to an initial core census tract ≥ 1,000 ppsm

Census tract > 3 sq. miles

1,600 ppsm

1,300 ppsm

700 ppsm

Initial Census Tract Core Based on Population and Size Criteria

750 ppsm



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Splitting Large Urban Agglomerations

Census 2000 San Francisco-Oakland and San Jose Split


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Proposed Split Method and Thresholds?

  • Continue Census 2000 method using metropolitan area boundaries

    • feasible, consistent, based on urban function

  • Method based on commuting ties as outlined above

    • representative of urban function, not constrained by metropolitan area boundaries

  • Method based on density gradients

    • morphological approach based on structure

  • Others?

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Qualification of Airports for Inclusion in Urban Areas

Merced Municipal/MacCready Field, Merced CA


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Wetlands as an Additional Exempted Territory

Noncontiguous qualifying territory

Jump census block

Urban Core

Road connection

Distance from core to wetlands is 0.7 mile

Distance over wetlands is 0.5 mile

Total exempted distance is 1.8 miles

Total jump distance is 3.2 miles

Distance over river is 0.6 mile

Distance over wetlands is 0.7 mile

Distance from wetlands to noncontiguous qualifying area is 0.7 mile


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Prison Urban Clusters

Abilene North (Robertson Unit), TX

Population: 4,650

Urban: 4,650

Group Quarters: 4,650

Institutional: 4,650

Correctional: 4,650

Density: 94,589 ppsm

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Central Places

  • Central places are not necessary for UA or UC delineation

  • Principal cities defined within CBSAs:

    • capture same concept

    • classification based on different criteria

  • Lack of consideration of place boundaries in delineation process results in central places split between urban and rural portions.

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Questions? Comments?

Vince Osier

Geographic Standards & Criteria Branch

Geography Division

U.S. Census Bureau

Washington, DC

vincent.osier@census.gov

(301) 763-3056

Chris Henrie

Geographic Standards & Criteria Branch

Geography Division

U.S. Census Bureau

Washington, DC

christopher.j.henrie@census.gov

(301) 763-3056

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