US Census Bureau


Guide to the
2002 Economic Census

Definitions of Geographic Concepts

States Counties Places Metro Areas ZIP Codes Outlying Areas Special-Purpose Areas Maps


States are the primary governmental divisions of the United States. The District of Columbia is treated as a statistical equivalent of a State for census purposes.

(Statistics for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands are published only in the separate 2002 Economic Census of Puerto Rico and the Island Areas, and are not included in any United States totals.)

Each State and equivalent is assigned a two-digit numeric Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) code (ST) in alphabetical order by State name (e.g., Alabama=01, Wyoming=56). In files for Mining, additional codes appear in the state field for offshore areas (codes 80-83). In files for Construction, codes 91 to 94 are used in the state code field to identify census regions.

See Maps.


Counties and their equivalents are the primary political and administrative divisions of States. These areas are called parishes in Louisiana. In Alaska, 27 boroughs and "census areas" are treated as county equivalents for census purposes. Several cities (Baltimore, MD, St. Louis, MO, Carson City, NV, and 40 cities in Virginia) are independent of any county organization and, because they constitute primary divisions of their States, are accorded the same treatment as counties in census tabulations. That part of Yellowstone National Park in Montana is treated as a county equivalent. The District of Columbia has no primary divisions, and the entire area is considered equivalent to a county for statistical purposes. Kalawao County, HI, is combined with Maui County for statistical purposes.

Counties are identified by a 3-digit Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) code, which is sequenced alphabetically within state, except for the independent cities, which follow the listing of counties within state.

See Maps.


Incorporated Places -- The 2002 Economic Census provides information for legally defined, incorporated municipalities (cities, towns, villages, and boroughs) with 2,500 or more inhabitants as of the 2000 population census or a subsequent population estimate. Hawaii does not have incorporated places that are recognized for census purposes, so data there are provided for census designated places (CDP's) with 2,500 or more inhabitants.

Selected Towns and Townships -- Some county subdivisions, such as towns and townships, are not classified as incorporated places for census purposes. Statistics are presented in the 2002 Economic Census for towns in the six New England states, New York, and Wisconsin, and townships in Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania with a 2000 census population of 10,000 or more. These towns and townships are presented in the same tables as places.

The place code is a five-digit FIPS code assigned to places (including independent cities) in alphabetic sequence within a state. Its use largely replaced that of the 4-digit census place code used in 1987 and earlier censuses.

All incorporated municipalities with populations of fewer than 2,500, town and townships not qualifying as noted above, and the remainders of counties outside places are categorized as "Balance of county" and assigned a place code of "99999".

See Maps.

Metropolitan and Micropolitan Areas

The 2002 Economic Census provides data for the following types of statistical areas in the United States and Puerto Rico:
• Metropolitan Statistical Areas
• Micropolitan Statistical Areas
• Metropolitan Divisions
• Combined Statistical Areas

Metropolitan Statistical Areas -- Metro areas have at least one urbanized area of 50,000 or more population, plus adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured by commuting ties.

Micropolitan Statistical Areas -- Micro areas, a new feature for 2002 data, have at least one urban cluster of at least 10,000 but less than 50,000 population, plus adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured by commuting ties.

Metropolitan Divisions -- If specified criteria are met, a Metropolitan Statistical Area containing a single core with a population of 2.5 million or more may be subdivided to form smaller groupings of counties referred to as Metropolitan Divisions.

Combined Statistical Areas -- If specified criteria are met, adjacent Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas, in various combinations, may become the components of a new set of areas called Combined Statistical Areas. For instance, a Combined Statistical Area may comprise two or more Metropolitan Statistical Areas, a Metropolitan Statistical Area and a Micropolitan Statistical Area, two or more Micropolitan Statistical Areas, or multiple Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas. The areas that combine retain their own designations as Metropolitan or Micropolitan Statistical Areas within the larger Combined Statistical Area. Combinations for adjacent areas with an employment interchange of 25 or more are automatic. Combinations for adjacent areas with an employment interchange of at least 15 but less than 25 are based on local opinion as expressed through the Congressional delegations.

Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas and Metropolitan Divisions are defined in terms of whole counties (or equivalent entities), including in the six New England States. The counties and equivalent entities (boroughs and census areas in Alaska, parishes in Louisiana, municipios in Puerto Rico, and independent cities in Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, and Virginia) used in these definitions are those that were in existence as of January 1, 2000, with the exception of Broomfield County, Colorado.

Metropolitan, micropolitan, and combined statistical areas are defined under the auspices of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB). That agency also identifies New England City and Town Areas (NECTAs), but NECTAs are not published in the Economic Census. The metro and micro areas published in the 2002 Economic Census are those defined as of June 6, 2003. (A December 2003 announcement defined 13 additional micro areas, 9 additional combined areas, and 7 title changes to existing areas, but these are not reflected in 2002 Economic Census reports.)

Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas together include about 93 percent of the U.S. population – about 83 percent in metropolitan statistical areas and about 10 percent in micropolitan statistical areas. (Previously, the metropolitan classification included about 80 percent of the U.S. population.) Of 3,142 counties in the United States (the 3,141 counties at the time of the 2000 decennial census plus Broomfield, Colorado, which became a county in November 2001), 1,090 are in the 362 metropolitan statistical areas in the United States and 674 counties are in micropolitan statistical areas (1,378 counties remain outside either classification). Previous metropolitan statistical areas included 847 counties.


See the lists defining the new metropolitan, micropolitan, and combined statistical areas.

See Maps.

ZIP Codes

ZIP Codes are administrative entities of the U.S. Postal Service. Limited statistics are summarized for individual five-digit ZIP Codes in manufacturing, retail trade, and several of the service sectors. These statistics are generally limited to a count of the establishments in each industry or kind of business, further classified by size. In addition, statistics on employment, payrolls, and sales or receipts are presented for nonmanufacturing businesses by sector businesses within a ZIP Code, not by individual kind of business.

ZIP Codes generally do not coincide with the Census Bureau's geographic or political areas, and they change according to postal requirements. Most ZIP Codes do not have specific boundaries, and their implied boundaries do not necessarily follow clearly identifiable physical features. At the time of the 1997 Economic Censuses, there were about 40,000 ZIP Codes, although several thousand had no business activity and were not included in files.

The areas presented in the Economic Census are actual ZIP Codes as reported by businesses or coded from addresses, not the ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs) published from Census 2000.

Puerto Rico and Island Areas

The 2002 Economic Census in Puerto Rico and Island Areas provides data for--

The Census Bureau does not collect economic census data for the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

Special-Purpose Areas

Offshore Areas. The Economic Census for the mining sector presents some statistics on petroleum and natural gas industries for selected offshore areas (as well as by State).

Regions. Census regions are groupings of States that subdivide the United States for the presentation of data. Data are summarized by region only for construction industries. There are four regions--Northeast, Midwest, South, and West. Each of the four census regions is divided into two or more census divisions. Prior to 1984, the Midwest region was named the North Central region.

Regions (nonstandard) The Current Industrial Report series presents selected statistics for other nonstandard regions--for example, "brick industry regions" and "lumber industry regions" in appropriate reports.

Major Retail Centers (MRC's) and Central Business Districts (CBD's). MRC's and CBD's were large concentrations of retail stores within metropolitan areas, reported in the census of retail trade from 1948 to 1982. This series of reports was discontinued because of the high cost of defining the areas. For some purposes, the statistics for ZIP Codes can substitute for the discontinued MRC and CBD statistics.

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