A Closer Look at MSA’s and Commuting

As Hamilton noted when posting the map of updated Virginia Metropolitan Statistical Areas, the MSA’s are calculated with commuting statistics.  If more than 25% of workers in a locality commute to a nearby metropolitan area, that county is considered to be closely linked to it.  This is a useful cutoff point, but like all cutoffs, it is completely arbitrary.  I mapped five of the state’s largest MSA’s to show the degree to which their surrounding counties are dependent on them.  This is important to understand since a significant part of Virginia’s “rural” areas are becoming increasingly exurban – dependent on nearby urban economies rather than agriculture or local industries.  Again, 25% is the cutoff for inclusion in the MSA (see Hamilton’s map linked above).  That includes all workers commuting to one of the core counties of the MSA.  The “core counties” are not explicitly listed anywhere that we’ve been able to find, but there is a definition and by working backwards from the commuting numbers it’s not too hard to figure out.

DC-Nova:

DC

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Virginia’s 2013 Metro Areas

Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) or Metro Areas are perhaps the most common way to define an urban region. Because many urban areas cross into multiple localities, such as in Hampton Roads, MSAs are frequently used in the public and private sector to understand an urban area and its suburbs. Despite the widespread usage of MSAs, it is actually very difficult to find an up-to-date map of Virginia’s MSAs, which is why I created this updated map following the 2013 definitions from the Office of Management and Budget.

Virginia 2013 Statistical Areas

MSA Map 2

(Click on the map for a larger version)

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