The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) today announced the 2020 Standards for Delineating Core Based Statistical Areas. The standards will supersede the 2010 standards with modest revisions.

Core-based statistical area standards are intended for statistical purposes only to help ensure Federal agencies that classify statistics, such as unemployment numbers or GDP levels, by geographic area do so consistently across government. Every ten years, as part of a long-running process, OMB considers updates to the standards to ensure their continued usefulness and relevance for statistical agencies. Updates to the standards follow a long-running process: A technical advisory committee of experts provides recommendations, OMB solicits public notice and comment on proposed changes, OMB deliberates on the recommendations and public comments, and finally OMB publishes notification of its final decisions.

On January 19, 2021, OMB published a Federal Register Notice soliciting public comment on recommendations for the 2020 update from a technical advisory committee of interagency experts, known as Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Area Standards Review Committee. Following a public comment period, the Committee submitted a revised recommendation to leave the current Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) core population threshold in place.

Consistent with the Standards Review Committee’s revised recommendation, OMB’s 2020 Standards will maintain the MSA threshold of 50,000. Recognizing the committee’s concern that MSA thresholds have not kept pace with population growth, OMB will work with the Standards Review Committee to conduct research and stakeholder outreach to inform the 2030 standards update.

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