Metropolitan Statistical Area MSA Definition and Uses

Metropolitan Statistical Area MSA Definition and Uses

Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) are defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as urbanized areas with a minimum population of 50,000. MSAs group counties and cities into specific geographic areas for population censuses and statistical data compilations.

MSAs consist of a city and its surrounding communities that have social and economic connections. They represent contiguous areas with a high population density. These regions often include a core city and adjacent counties where people commute for work and other activities.

As of March 6, 2020, there are 392 designated MSAs in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Unlike micropolitan statistical areas, MSAs must include a city with a population of at least 50,000. Some MSAs, like Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, encompass multiple cities with populations exceeding 50,000. The largest MSA, New York-Newark-Jersey City, spans parts of three states.

MSA data is used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to analyze labor market conditions and by government officials and businesses to review per capita income, spending patterns, and unemployment rates. This data helps formulate policies for economic growth and is utilized by real estate investors and social service applicants as well.

A metropolitan statistical area requires at least one urbanized area and a population of 50,000 or more. It differs from a combined statistical area (CSA), which consists of multiple MSAs or micropolitan statistical areas with significant employment interchange measures.

Tokyo holds the title of the world’s largest metro area with a total metropolitan population of 36.5 million.

In conclusion, MSAs are defined by the OMB as geographical areas encompassing cities and their surrounding communities. They serve to group counties and cities for a variety of statistical purposes.

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