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A More and More Metropolitan America

Thu Mar 27 2014
Marc Perry
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Census Bureau population estimates released today reveal a nation becoming increasingly metropolitan. The percentage of our nation’s population living in a metropolitan area ticked up from 85.3 percent in 2012 to 85.4 percent in 2013.

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While this may not look like much of an increase, it’s worth noting that the population living in such areas grew by 2.3 million over the period. At the same time, the population living in micropolitan statistical areas climbed by a mere 8,000, and the number living in neither metros nor micros dropped by more than 35,000. So metro areas were responsible for virtually all of our nation’s population growth.

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Metro areas, by the way, contain a core urban area of at least 50,000 people and consist of the county or counties that area is located in, plus any adjacent counties from which a relatively large number of people commute to work in the urban core. Micro areas – the kid sister of sorts to metro areas ─ have a core with at least 10,000 but less than 50,000 people.

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Large metro areas ─ those with populations of 1 million or more ─ collectively grew more than twice as fast as smaller ones (those with fewer than 250,000 residents).

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Many of us now live in one of the biggest of the big metros. Nearly one in seven Americans reside in either the New York, Los Angeles or Chicago areas. And almost one in three live in one of the 10 most populous areas, which include the three just mentioned, plus Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Philadelphia, Washington, Miami, Atlanta and Boston.

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The 10 fastest-growing areas are relatively small in size. And virtually all are located either in or near the Great Plains or in or near the Gulf Coast.

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For more information on population changes in metro areas, see our population estimates released today at http://www.census.gov/popest/.

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