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100 US urban areas will become rural with new criteria Lifestyle


MIKE SCHNEIDER – Associated Press

Hundreds of urban areas in the U.S. are turning into rural ones, but that’s not because people are leaving.

Just the U.S. Census Bureau changes the definition of an urban area. Under the new criteria, more than 1,300 small towns, villages and hamlets identified as urban ten years ago will be considered rural.

This is important because urban and rural areas are eligible for different types of federal funding. Some communities are worried that the changes could affect outpatient clinics in rural areas as well as funding for transportation and education from federal programs. But leaders of other communities, which should lose their urban status, say it will not change.

“We’re rural, and we feel rural, and that’s what we’re already identifying,” said Randy Rigg, city administrator of Bridge, Wisconsin, a city of 4,347 residents about 75 miles (120 kilometers) northwest of Madison.

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Groups like the American Association of Hospitals say the changes, which are the biggest in definitions in decades, could cause problems for people in need of health care in rural areas.

“The transition to the new definition could limit the number of rural clinics moving forward and negatively affect access to rural care,” said Shannon Wu, senior deputy director for policy at the Association of Hospitals.

To begin with, the Census Bureau is moving to residential units rather than to people as a basis for calculating what should be an urban area. Bureau officials say the change will facilitate an update between the once-a-decade number of U.S. executives. They also argue that it is necessary because a new method of confidentiality introduces errors into the 2020 census population figures in small regions to protect people’s identities. According to this method, the calculation of housing remains accurate.

The place had to have at least 2,500 people to be urban by old standards that lasted more than a century. Now it will take at least 2,000 housing units, which is equivalent to about 5,000 people. A revised list of urban areas will not be published later this year, but a third of areas that were considered urban ten years ago will be categorized as rural by new criteria.

Locations of 50,000 or more were considered “urbanized areas,” compared to “urban clusters,” which in the past had 2,500 to 49,999 residents. But these differences will be eliminated and all will be called urban areas according to the new definition.

Some communities are concerned that the move to housing units will lead to some areas being underestimated if the Census Bureau uses a 2.6-person-per-household average for its calculations. For example, in Madeira County, California, there are 3.3 people per family, and this change “will not fully represent the community,” Patricia Taylor, executive director of the Madeira County Transportation Commission, said in a letter to the bureau last year. .

The Census Bureau says the new definition should only be used for statistical purposes. But the Bureau’s urban areas make up the core of the subway and neighborhoods, and its definitions form the basis for how other agencies classify urban and rural areas in determining eligibility for federal funding. The Bureau reviews the definitions every 10 years after the censusand urban population grew from about 45% of the total U.S. population in 1910 to more than 80% ten years ago.

“We have heard people say that 2,500 is too little. That was the impetus for the increase, ”said Michael Ratcliffe, a senior geographer with the Census Bureau.

Different federal programs use different definitions of urban and rural, and some communities are eligible for rural funding for some programs rather than others. But any change “will have significant implications for many groups and communities,” said Kenneth Johnson, a senior demographer at the University of New Hampshire who studies rural issues.

“Another likely concern of many rural communities is that if many existing urban areas are renamed rural, competition for limited rural resources will increase,” Johnson said.

A coalition of associations representing cities, counties, planners and transport groups opposed many of the proposed changes last year, saying the move from people to housing would lead to no change in building and land use patterns.

The Census Bureau has attempted to address these issues by creating three levels of urban area definition for the census units, which are the smallest geographical unit in the country. Census quarters will be urban if they have 425 housing units per square mile, equivalent to 1,105 people. Prior to the change, census districts with a population of at least 500 people per square mile were considered urban.

The reassignment gives the Bureau the opportunity to distinguish between the “urban core” and less densely populated areas, usually on the outskirts of urban areas.

Bill Keiruz, executive director of the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations, said the revisions of the Census Bureau, adding different levels of urban areas depending on density, “were an adequate compromise.”

For the city of Demot, Indiana, 85 miles (135 kilometers) southwest of South Bend, which will no longer qualify as an urban area, it doesn’t matter much in terms of “status,” said city manager Michael Kane.

“You are who you are. The number of people does not matter. What matters is the community spirit, whether your city is a cohesive group of people who care about each other, ”Cain said.

Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP

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