Federal Statistical Area Delineations

On February 28, 2013, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced through Bulletin No. 13-01 revised delineations of Metropolitan Statistical Areas, Metropolitan Divisions, Micropolitan Statistical Areas, and Combined Statistical Areas, and guidance on uses of the delineations of these areas. The LAUS program implemented these 2010 Census-based delineations on March 17, 2015. Civilian labor force and unemployment data were reconstructed back to the series beginnings in January 1990 based on the new delineations. Other Bureau of Labor Statistics programs implement revisions to federal statistical areas on a program-by-program basis.

On July 15, 2015, OMB updated the 2010 Census-based federal statistical areas through Bulletin No. 15-01. The updates were based on the application of the 2010 Standards for Delineating Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas to Census Bureau population estimates for July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2013, resulting in the designation of a new Metropolitan Statistical Area, new Micropolitan Statistical Areas, new Combined Statistical Areas, and new components of existing Combined Statistical Areas, as well as other changes. The LAUS program implemented these updates in March of 2017.

For the six New England states, the New England City and Town Areas, or NECTAs, which OMB delineates as an equivalent alternative to the county-based areas, are used. The LAUS program publishes data for all counties in the New England states. Hence, civilian labor force and unemployment data for the county-based areas in this part of the country can be derived from the data published for counties.

The LAUS substate estimation methodology was designed around the labor market area concept. A labor market area is a contiguous geographical area in which individuals can live and work and change jobs without having to relocate. The LAUS program uses the OMB-based metropolitan and micropolitan areas as its core labor market areas, then examines commuting data for counties (cities and towns in New England) not included in the OMB delineations to define its own small labor market areas. A comprehensive list of the 2010 Census-based metropolitan, micropolitan, and small labor market areas and their geographic compositions is available here. This list supersedes what in previous years had been called the Labor Market Area directory.

The Office of Management and Budget is responsible for maintaining and updating statistical area delineations, a task it has performed every decade since the 1950 Census. OMB establishes and maintains these areas solely for statistical purposes. The delineations are intended to provide a nationally consistent set of geographic areas for collecting, tabulating, and publishing federal statistics. More information, including both the 2010- and 2000-based standards for delineating federal statistical areas, is available on the OMB website.

Comparison of Geographic Coverage Between the 2000 and 2010 Delineations:

  • States:  Maps of 2000 Metropolitan and Micropolitan Areas (PDF 2.6MB)
  • States:  Maps of 2010 Metropolitan and Micropolitan Areas (PDF 13.5MB)

Census Bureau Links for Federal Statistical Areas:


Last Modified Date: March 17, 2017