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View Poll Results: What's your preferred way of looking at a metropolitan area?
Combined Statistical Area (CSA) 17 22.97%
Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) 36 48.65%
Urbanized Area (UA) 15 20.27%
City Limit Population only 6 8.11%
Voters: 74. You may not vote on this poll

 
 
Old 01-02-2010, 06:43 PM
 
Location: Northridge, Los Angeles, CA
2,685 posts, read 6,821,074 times
Reputation: 2385

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Like everything else on City-Data, this issue has popped up over and over again, and I would hope this thread can settle it as soon as possible. Whenever statistics are thrown out about a metropolitan area on this website, there are usually a few dissenters who say that "Combined Statistical Areas are useless because it includes too much" "Looking at city-limits itself is pointless because these lines are arbitrary" or "MSAs don't tell the whole picture"

Since the US Census Bureau, like many other government agencies, makes our lives hard by throwing more and more statistics at us, how do you typically define a city and the region surrounded by it?

From the United States Office of Management and Budget:
Bulletin 05-02, Update of Statistical Area Definitions and Guidance on Their Uses

Quote:
4. Guidance on Uses of Statistical Area Definitions: All agencies that conduct statistical activities to collect and publish data for Metropolitan, Micropolitan, and Combined Statistical Areas, and New England City and Town Areas, should use the most recent definitions of these areas established by OMB.
OMB establishes and maintains the definitions of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas, Combined Statistical Areas, and New England City and Town Areas solely for statistical purposes. This classification is intended to provide nationally consistent definitions for collecting, tabulating, and publishing Federal statistics for a set of geographic areas. The Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Area Standards do not equate to an urban-rural classification; many counties included in Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas, and many other counties, contain both urban and rural territory and populations.
The OMB keeps a set of four sets of statistics, two of which are extremely relevant:
1) Combined Statistical Area (CSA)
2) Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA)

Just for fun, I'll include two more types of statistics which are also thrown out in a city-by-city comparison
3) Urbanized Area population (UAs)
4) City limit population

Which do you guys prefer?

Just to make my vote known, I vote for the Combined Statistical Area simply because in the same OMB memo
Quote:
Users making comparisons with areas defined under the 1990 standards should note that when the 2000 standards were applied, the result, in some cases, was to create several areas from an existing Metropolitan Statistical Area. The resulting reconfigured areas may also qualify under the 2000 standards to form a complementary Combined Statistical Area, while retaining their separate designations as Metropolitan or Micropolitan Statistical Areas. In these situations, the Combined Statistical Area may be the approximate geographic equivalent of the previous Metropolitan Statistical Area, and thus may be the more appropriate geographic unit for analytic and program purposes.
I feel that whenever we look at cities and their metropolitan regions, the CSA allows for us to give the fullest view of how an area works, without being too lofty in how much it includes. Even though the CSA allows areas like Los Angeles, which has extremely huge counties, to extend from Ventura all the way to Needles (since its in San Bernardino County), I feel that its the most appropriate way to geographically see where cities are beginning to expand.

I'll preface this by saying that defining metro areas county-by-county is extremely flawed, but there is no other way that the US government can take an accurate statistic without making someone unhappy. However, there are also some cities (Miami, Phoenix, San Diego, etc) that don't have CSA boundaries, so the MSA acts as the primary statistical census unit due to their geographically large counties. They need to begin defining these areas by census tracts, rather by state-defined county lines....

Last edited by Lifeshadower; 01-02-2010 at 06:58 PM..
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Old 01-02-2010, 06:48 PM
 
69,591 posts, read 96,425,937 times
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I'd say the CSA, because it generally gets viewed as thewhole area that is centered around the major city/cities.
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Old 01-02-2010, 07:02 PM
 
Location: Searching n Atlanta
840 posts, read 1,901,351 times
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Whats the Difference Between the CSA and MSA
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Old 01-02-2010, 07:30 PM
 
Location: Northridge, Los Angeles, CA
2,685 posts, read 6,821,074 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mgyeldell View Post
Whats the Difference Between the CSA and MSA
Simply speaking:

Combined statistical area - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
United States metropolitan area - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This all turns into:
Table of United States primary census statistical areas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

MSAs and CSAs are typically defined by county, and are determined by commuter patterns. In order for an area to be part of a CSA, it must send at least 15% of its commuters to the core of the region, while the MSA threshold is significantly higher.

CSAs are always made up with 2 or more MSAs.
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Old 01-02-2010, 07:34 PM
 
Location: metro ATL
8,190 posts, read 13,408,314 times
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I prefer a combination of CSA, MSA, and urbanized area populations. They all supply a necessary piece of the puzzle and no one metric alone tells the whole story.
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Old 01-02-2010, 07:34 PM
 
Location: Pasadena
883 posts, read 2,093,218 times
Reputation: 466
MSA's, for the most part i view CSA's as a tool for making your area appear bigger than it really is, simply for comparison reasons, and is only relevant, imo for about 3 cities. OF course, IMO only.
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Old 01-02-2010, 07:40 PM
 
Location: metro ATL
8,190 posts, read 13,408,314 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SouthmoreAve View Post
MSA's, for the most part i view CSA's as a tool for making your area appear bigger than it really is, simply for comparison reasons, and is only relevant, imo for about 3 cities. OF course, IMO only.
Not necessarily. I think CSA's are more relevant in the case of polycentric metro areas that are divided into separate MSAs that are actually more interdependent than their designations as separate MSAs might suggest. But in the case of a metro area where one city serves as the undisputed center, CSA statistics are a bit less meaningful.
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Old 01-03-2010, 12:03 AM
 
Location: Piedmont, CA
34,684 posts, read 60,412,090 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ckhthankgod View Post
I'd say the CSA, because it generally gets viewed as thewhole area that is centered around the major city/cities.
I couldnt agree more.

MSAs dont show the whole picture.
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Old 01-03-2010, 12:10 AM
 
1,263 posts, read 3,751,115 times
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I vote MSA. It is a good tradeoff. CSAs are too big, and city limits are too small. There are some CSA combinations that just don't make sense. It can take hours to get from one side of the CSA to the other. People don't regularly make trips that long.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lifeshadower View Post
Like everything else on City-Data, this issue has popped up over and over again, and I would hope this thread can settle it as soon as possible. Whenever statistics are thrown out about a metropolitan area on this website, there are usually a few dissenters who say that "Combined Statistical Areas are useless because it includes too much" "Looking at city-limits itself is pointless because these lines are arbitrary" or "MSAs don't tell the whole picture"

Since the US Census Bureau, like many other government agencies, makes our lives hard by throwing more and more statistics at us, how do you typically define a city and the region surrounded by it?

From the United States Office of Management and Budget:
Bulletin 05-02, Update of Statistical Area Definitions and Guidance on Their Uses

The OMB keeps a set of four sets of statistics, two of which are extremely relevant:
1) Combined Statistical Area (CSA)
2) Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA)

Just for fun, I'll include two more types of statistics which are also thrown out in a city-by-city comparison
3) Urbanized Area population (UAs)
4) City limit population

Which do you guys prefer?

Just to make my vote known, I vote for the Combined Statistical Area simply because in the same OMB memo
I feel that whenever we look at cities and their metropolitan regions, the CSA allows for us to give the fullest view of how an area works, without being too lofty in how much it includes. Even though the CSA allows areas like Los Angeles, which has extremely huge counties, to extend from Ventura all the way to Needles (since its in San Bernardino County), I feel that its the most appropriate way to geographically see where cities are beginning to expand.

I'll preface this by saying that defining metro areas county-by-county is extremely flawed, but there is no other way that the US government can take an accurate statistic without making someone unhappy. However, there are also some cities (Miami, Phoenix, San Diego, etc) that don't have CSA boundaries, so the MSA acts as the primary statistical census unit due to their geographically large counties. They need to begin defining these areas by census tracts, rather by state-defined county lines....
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Old 01-03-2010, 03:34 AM
 
Location: Northridge, Los Angeles, CA
2,685 posts, read 6,821,074 times
Reputation: 2385
Quote:
Originally Posted by fashionguy View Post
I vote MSA. It is a good tradeoff. CSAs are too big, and city limits are too small. There are some CSA combinations that just don't make sense. It can take hours to get from one side of the CSA to the other. People don't regularly make trips that long.
I can see what you are saying, but since CSA's are defined on a county-by-county basis, it would typically be the border areas between different MSAs that would push the whole county (no matter the size) to become part of the CSA. After all, there's a reason why the Census Bureau made this category to begin with.

The best example of this is San Bernardino and Riverside County in California. Around 80-85% of the population of these counties live on the Western edge (the Inland Empire), and people from these areas regularly commute to places within the Los Angeles MSA (LA County/Orange County/etc.). However, due to the way the county borders are drawn, someone from Baker, CA (only 92 miles from Las Vegas, NV); Needles, CA (way closer to Flagstaff, AZ than San Bernardino, CA); and Blythe, CA (closer to Phoenix, AZ than Los Angeles) are all considered part of the LA CSA.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...r_no_trans.png

I think way too often we look at the extreme case scenario, like the one I described above. More often, its the border line-grey area that pushes it over the top. For example, using the same example, Claremont, San Dimas, and Pomona are much closer geographically to the Inland Empire MSA than they are to the rest of Los Angeles, but they are in the LA MSA. There is really nothing separating them from the IE except for the county line.

The Bay Area is also another example of this. It's a polycentric area with 3 major anchor cities (SF, Oakland, and San Jose), all of which depend on each other. This has been debated way too much on this forum, but it seems kind of anachronistic that the Santa Clara County line separates two metro areas. After all, if there were no signs, you wouldn't even know when you crossed county lines into different MSAs(IE Milpitas and Fremont, Menlo Park and Palo Alto, etc.)

Anyways, to not appear like I'm trying to boost the California metropolitan areas, here are some MSA-to-MSA developed borders, and where the line is between different MSAs

Washington-Baltimore: Laurel, MD - Google Maps (Laurel and North Laurel are in different MSA's)

Boston-Providence: Boston, MA - Google Maps (Mansfield and Foxborough are in different MSA's)

Los Angeles CSA (border with the Inland Empire): Claremont, CA - Google Maps (Pomona and Montclair are in different MSAs. In fact, Mills Ave is divided in half between the two cities)

San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland CSA: Milpitas, CA - Google Maps (Milpitas and Fremont are in two different MSAs)

The last two MSA distinctions are perhaps the most comical. In both of these MSA borders, they cut right through buildings. In Fremont/Milpitas, the MSA and city border cuts right through an apartment complex! (Milpitas, CA - Google Maps)

In Southern California, this is what the IE/LA MSA border looks like, cutting right through the middle of the street (Montclair, CA - Google Maps)

I'm the type of person that errs on the side of caution; its better to include too much and cut out later, rather than leaving out too much and picking up pieces. However, you could also find the examples proving just the opposite of this one. However, its also a shocker how much American cities have sprawled out. Ouch!
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