Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Micropolitan Areas: Splitting the Difference

Through the years, Oregon Employment Department (OED) analysts have studied and written about urban-rural differences numerous times. But instead of splitting Oregon into two segments - urban versus rural or metropolitan versus nonmetropolitan - we can divide the state into three parts.

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget first adopted the concept of this third segement - micropolitan statistical areas - in December 2000. Officially, a micropolitan statistical area is a county (or group of counties) with at least one urban cluster that has a population of at least 10,000 but less than 50,000.

Unofficially, one can think of micropolitan areas as those mid-sized places away from the large metro areas. For example, Roseburg - and, by extension, Douglas County - is a micropolitan area. It has a population of least 10,000 but less than 50,000 in its central urban cluster. On the other hand, Ashland is not a micropolitan area. Even though Ashland and Roseburg have similar populations, Ashland gets statistically swallowed by the larger Medford metropolitan area, as Ashland and Medford are in the same county.

Quick Facts About Oregon's Metropolitan and Micropolitan Areas:
  • Workers in Oregon's metropolitan areas slogged through commutes that were, on average, more than four minutes longer than for workers in micropolitan areas.

  • Among micropolitan areas, Curry County (that's the Brookings Micropolitan Area) had an average commute time of only 13.8 minutes, and Hood River County's figure was just 15.6 minutes.

  • Oregon's metropolitan areas were more likely to have both spouses active in the labor force than married-couple families in Oregon's micropolitan areas, and micropolitan areas were more likely to have both spouses participating in the labor force than Oregon's 11 non-metro, non-micro counties.

Learn more about Oregon's metropolitan, micropolitan, and rural areas by reading the full article, written by Regional Economist Jason Yohannan (, 541-963-7111).

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