MCDC News and Updates

Urban/Rural Categories now available in Geocorr 2022

We’ve added the new urban areas to the Geocorr 2022 application this month.

There are two new options in Geocorr for source or target geographies. Urban areas are the complete areas with Census Bureau codes; for example, the Columbia, MO urban area with UA code 18937. Urban/rural portion uses a binary designation (“U” or “R”) for each block to calculate the fraction of urban and rural population for any other geography.

There are significant changes to the urban/rural classifications for the 2020 Census. One major change is that we no longer have two different types of urban area. Previously, there were urbanized areas and urban clusters (collective called urban areas), but now there are only urban areas of a single type. In addition, the method for defining these areas is much more complex than before. The short version of the new definition, from the Bureau’s Urban and Rural page, is:

For the 2020 Census, an urban area will comprise a densely settled core of census blocks that meet minimum housing unit density and/or population density requirements.  This includes adjacent territory containing non-residential urban land uses.  To qualify as an urban area, the territory identified according to criteria must encompass at least 2,000 housing units or a population of at least 5,000.

Among other factors, the longer definition includes:

  • Initial criteria for blocks: >= 425 dwelling units/ square mile, or substantial impervious surface >= 20%, or group quarters facility and >= 500 population/square mile.
  • Candidate blocks are then assembled into urban areas:
    • Start with an initial contiguous core area with >= 500 dwelling units.
    • Add nearby noncontiguous urban blocks: any number of “hops” <= 0.5 mile over land area, and up to one “jump” of 0.51 – 1.5 miles over land area.
  • Combined urban area must have at least 5,000 population or at least 2,000 housing units.
  • Enclaves or surrounded areas are added (or removed), and additional qualifying criteria (airports, indentations, high-employment areas, impervious areas) are applied.

For a complete list of elements comprising the new definition, refer to the Federal Register Notice. See also this helpful PDF, Differences between the Final 2020 Census Urban Area Criteria and the 2010 Census Urban Area Criteria, for more information about the changes.

Please report any errors to Glenn Rice (

ACS Report

Nearly a Quarter of Veterans Live in Rural Areas

About five million (24.1%) U.S. veterans 18 years and older lived in areas designated as rural between 2011 and 2015, according to a new report (Veterans in Rural America: 2011–2015) from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). The report found that when considering demographic and economic characteristics, rural veterans were similar to urban veterans except for their median household income and employment rates.

Rural veterans had median household incomes more similar to those of rural nonveterans than urban veterans ($53,554 compared with $52,161 and $59,674, respectively). The poverty rate for all rural veterans was 6.9%. This rate increased by level of rurality, to a high of 8.6% for veterans in completely rural counties. Level of rurality is based on the percentage of the county population living in rural areas.

Working-age rural veterans (18-64 years old) had an employment rate of 66.0%, lower than rural nonveterans and urban veterans (67.7% and 70.7%, respectively). The employment rate of rural veterans decreased as the level of rurality increased. Employed rural veterans, however, were more likely to work full time and year-round than rural nonveterans (81.6% compared with 71.5%).

These findings use the ACS 5-year statistics released on December 8. Other highlights include:


Just under half of all rural veterans lived in the South (45.9%), followed by 26.4% in the Midwest, 14.1% in the West, and 13.7% in the Northeast.


The median age of rural veterans was about 15 years higher than rural nonveterans and two years higher than urban veterans, and their age increased as the level of rurality increased. Rural veterans living in counties that were completely rural were the oldest, with a median age of 66.

Health Insurance

During the 2011-2015 period, 5.2% of all rural veterans and 15.4% of all rural nonveterans were not covered by any type of health insurance plan. Of the rural veterans who had health insurance during this period, 30.3% had private insurance only, 24.6% had public insurance only, and the remainder (45.1%) had a combination of private and public insurance.