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)

The last time MSA boundaries were updated was in 2003, so there were a number of changes in the 2013 update:

  • Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County became part of a new MSA
  • Danville and Pittsylvannia County were downgraded from an MSA to a Micropolitan Area
  • Norton, Dickenson and Wise Counties became part of the Big Stone Gap Micropolitan Area
  • The Richmond MSA became somewhat smaller with the removal of Cumberland, King and Queen, and Louisa Counties
  • Surry County was removed from the Virginia Beach MSA
  • Buckingham County was added to the Charlottesville MSA
  • Floyd County was added to the Blacksburg MSA
  • Rappahannock County was added to the Northern Virginia MSA

A county is added to an MSA if more than 25 percent of all its workers commute into the MSA’s urban area. The Office of Management and Budget states that when over a quarter of a county’s workers commute into an MSA’s urban area it indicates “a high degree of social and economic integration”.

But being added to or removed from an MSA doesn’t necessarily indicate growth or decline in a county. Louisa County grew rapidly in population during the past decade but was removed from the Richmond MSA because the number of residents also working in Louisa County grew much faster than those commuting out to the Richmond Urban Area. As a result, the proportion of Louisa residents commuting to the Richmond Urban Area declined below 25 percent. Similarly, Buckingham County was added to the Charlottesville MSA even though the number of its residents commuting to work in the Charlottesville Urban Area declined between 2000 and 2010. Though the number of commuters declined, the total number of workers in Buckingham County declined even faster, causing the proportion of commuters to the Charlottesville Urban Area to rise above 25 percent.

If you are interested in tracking MSAs, the next update is scheduled for 2018.

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Hamilton Lombard
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