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A Typology of Micropolitan Areas in the United States

Received 27 Mar 2023, Accepted 01 Oct 2023, Published online: 01 Apr 2024


In 2003, the U.S. Census Bureau created a new census designation known as micropolitan statistical areas to better differentiate between metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. This article uses hierarchical clustering and discriminate analysis to create a typology of micropolitan areas using U.S. census data on demographic, housing, and economic characteristics. The regional concentration ratio (RCR) is then used to determine whether a cluster type is over- or underrepresented at the census division. The analysis revealed a three-cluster solution with: (1) a middle- class cluster overrepresented in the East North Central and West North Central divisions; (2) a poor, minority cluster overrepresented in the South Atlantic, East South Central, West South Central, and Mountain divisions; and (3) a high human capital cluster overrepresented in the New England, Mountain, and Pacific divisions. Of micropolitan areas, 59.8 percent were considered middle-class; 28.1 percent were poor, minority; and 12.1 percent were high human capital. The nine-cluster solution further refined cluster categories.

2003年, 美国人口普查局创建了新的人口普查单元——小都市统计区, 以更好地区分大都市区和非大都市区。本文采用层次聚类分析和判别分析, 利用美国人口、住房和经济特征人口普查数据, 构建了小都市地区类别体系。基于区域集中率(RCR), 本文确定了聚类类别在人口普查单元中的代表过度或不足。“三种聚类”分析结果显示: (1)在美国东北中部和西北中部, 中产阶级聚类的比例过高;(2)在南大西洋、东南中部、西南中部和山区, 贫困和少数民族聚类的比例过高;(3)在新英格兰、山区和太平洋地区, 人力资本聚类的比例过高。在小都市地区, 59.8%人口为中产阶级, 28.1%为贫困和少数民族人口, 高人力资本人口占12.1%。“九种聚类”分析结果细化了聚类类别。

En 2003, el Bureau de los Censos de EE.UU. estableció una nueva designación censal conocida como áreas estadísticas micropolitanas, para diferenciar mejor entre áreas metropolitanas y no metropolitanas. Este artículo utiliza el agrupamiento jerárquico y el análisis discriminante para crear una tipología de áreas micropolitanas usando datos censales de Estados Unidos sobre características demográficas, residenciales y económicas. Luego, se usa la ratio de concentración regional (RCR) para determinar si un tipo de agrupamiento está sobrerrepresentado o subrepresentado en la división censal. El análisis puso de manifiesto una solución de tres agrupamientos con: (1) un agrupamiento de clase media sobrerrepresentado en las divisiones Central del Este-Norte y en la Central Oeste-Norte; (2) un agrupamiento de minorías pobres sobrerrepresentado en las divisiones del Sur-Atlántico, Central Este-Sur, Central Oeste-Sur, y de las Montañas; y (3) un agrupamiento de capital humano alto sobrerrepresentado en las divisiones de Nueva Inglaterra, las Montañas y el Pacífico. De las áreas micropolitanas, el 59,8 por ciento se consideraron de clase media; el 28,1 por ciento, pobres y de minorías; y el 12,1 por ciento eran de capital humano alto. La solución de nueve agrupamientos refinó todavía más las categorías de agrupamiento.

Disclosure Statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author.


1 Hill, Wolman, and Brennan (Citation1998) used thirty-three variables in their central city analysis. Many of these variables were ratios between the central city and metropolitan area. These were used to determine how central cities differed from their metropolitan areas.

2 According to Lang and Dhavale (Citation2006), micropolitan areas in Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico are outliers and were excluded from their analysis. I follow that example in this article.

Additional information

Notes on contributors

Evelyn D. Ravuri

EVELYN D. RAVURI is a Professor in the Department of Geography at Saginaw Valley State University, University Center, MI 48710. E-mail: [email protected]. Her interests include neighborhood change and gentrification in U.S. cities.

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