How do I determine if my geographic area of interest is urban or rural?
In March 2012, the Census Bureau released the list of Urban Areas and their boundaries, based on the data from the 2010 Census. The Census Bureau is still working on tabulating the data for the Urban Areas. The data will be released through the American FactFinder (AFF) in the fall of 2012. At that time, you will be able to use the AFF to determine if your geographic area of interest is urban or rural.
Determining urban or rural for counties, cities, towns, metropolitan areas, and ZIP Code™ tabulation areas
Relationship files are available for places, counties, county subdivisions, metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas, and NECTAs. Each relationship file has at least one record for every entity the Census Bureau recognizes. For example, to determine if your city is urban or rural, use the Place relationship file. First, search for your city name in the PLNAME column to determine the corresponding urban area from the UANAME column. If your city is not in an urban area, 'Not in a 2010 urban area' will be displayed in the UANAME column. If your city name has more than one record, portions of the city may be in more than one urban area or portions of the city may fall outside of the 2010 urban area boundaries.
Determining urban or rural for census tracts and other geographic areas without relationship files
For geographic areas that do not have relationships files, such as census tracts, school districts and voting districts, the attribute file associated with the Topological Faces shapefile can be used to determine if your area of interest is urban or rural.
Download and Open the Topological Faces DBF File
1. Go to the download page for the 2010 TIGER/Line Shapefiles.
Using the Topological Faces DBF file to determine Urban or Rural
1. In the spreadsheet, select the column for the type of entity you are looking for, for instance, select the column for TRACTCE10, if looking for a 2010 census tract. (TRACTCE00 is the 2000 census tract number.)
A list of all of UACE codes and their corresponding names can be found on the 2010 Census Urban and Rural Classification webpage.
The 2010 Urban Areas can also be viewed using Reference maps and the TIGERweb interactive web mapping system. Finally, if you have access to GIS software, you can also use the TIGER/Line®shapefiles to map the urban areas.
For more information about Urban Areas, please see our 2010 Census Urban and Rural Classification and Urban Area Criteria page.