Metropolitan, Micropolitan, and Combined Statistical Areas for Michigan

A list of the current statistical areas for Michigan, as of March 2013, is at:
Statistical Area Designations for Michigan: 2013 (xls)
This list indicates changes from the designations that were made in 2003 based on the 2000 Census.

A listing of statistical areas for all states is at:
Statistical Area Designations for the U.S.: 2013 (pdf)

The standards upon which the designations are based are available at the
Metropolitan and Micropolitan page at the U.S. Census Bureau  

Highlights of the New Designations

Southeast Michigan

The Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) for southeast Michigan continues to consist of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston, Saint Clair, and Lapeer counties. Although 29.5% of the workers who reside in Sanilac county commute to that six-county area, it is not part of this MSA because Livingston, Saint Clair, and Lapeer counties lost their central status during the designation process when their statistical areas merged with Detroit's statistical area. The MSA for southeast Michigan also continues to exclude Monroe and Washtenaw counties. Even though those counties have close economic, social, and governmental linkages with the other counties of the region, they continue to be stand-alone MSA's.

The Combined Statistical Area for southeast Michigan now includes Lenawee county as well as the six counties of the Detroit MSA and Monroe, Washtenaw, and Genesee counties.

West Michigan

Population and commuting patterns in West Michigan have changed only slightly over the past decade, but those changes have had a large impact on the region's metropolitan designations.

The methodology used for designating MSA's prior to 2003 reflected several factors and it tended to produce stable and consistent results. The new methodology used in 2003 and 2013 is much more simplistic. Counties are now generally linked solely on the basis of having commuting rates of 25% or more relative to the central county or counties of a metropolitan area. West Michigan happens to have several pairs of counties with commuting rates slightly below or slightly above 25%, so the composition of the Grand Rapids MSA is unstable and only tenuously related to actual changes in relationships among counties.

In the designations that were made a decade ago based on the 2000 Census, three counties barely qualified to join with Kent county in the Grand Rapids MSA. Five additional counties barely missed qualifying as part of that MSA. Thus, Grand Rapids came very close to having just a one-county MSA, but it also came very close to being the center of a nine-county MSA.

With a commuting rate of 25.1% (down insignificantly from 26.8% in 2000), Barry county still qualifies to combine with Kent county. Ionia and Newaygo counties no longer meet the 25% threshold, however, since their new commuting rates to Kent county are 24.8% and 22.9% respectively (down slightly from 26.7% and 26.6% in 2000). On the other hand, Ottawa and Montcalm counties now qualify to be part of the Grand Rapids-Wyoming MSA based on commuting rates to Kent county of 25.6% and 26.2% respectively (up insignificantly from 24.7% and 24.6% in 2000).

Unfortunately, the merger of Ottawa county's statistical area with the Grand Rapids-Wyoming area resulted in Ottawa losing its status as a central county, despite the fact that it is home to 76,000 residents of the Grand Rapids urbanized area, 90,000 residents of the Holland urbanized area, and 40,000 residents of the Muskegon urbanized area. Therefore, Allegan county remains a separate "micropolitan" statistical area despite the fact that 20.0% of its employed residents commute to Ottawa county and 16.9% commute to Kent county (up insignificantly from 19.6% and 16.4% in 2000). Ionia county likewise becomes a separate micropolitan area despite the fact that 25.8% percent of its employed residents commute to Kent and Ottawa counties. Newaygo becomes a non-metropolitan county, even though 26.3% of its employed residents commute to Kent and Ottawa counties.

Muskegon county also has close ties with the counties of the Grand Rapids MSA, and nearly a quarter of the Muskegon urbanized area is actually located in Ottawa county (40,000 of 161,000 residents). Along with a moderate level of commuting, that was sufficient for combining Muskegon county into an MSA with Kent and Ottawa counties after the 1990 Census. The new methodology only considers commuting rates, however, and Muskegon county's commuting rate of 20.7% is not sufficient for it to be part of this MSA under the current methodology.

The Combined Statistical Area for West Michigan now includes Allegan, Ionia, Mecosta, and Muskegon counties as well as the four counties of the Grand Rapids MSA.

It should be noted that none of the counties in West Michigan has a commuting rate to Kent county that exceeds 25% by a statistically significant amount. Moreover, the only one of the counties mentioned above that has had a statistically significant change in commuting to Kent county since the 2000 Census is Newaygo, which had a small decrease. Thus, even in the absence of actual changes in commuting patterns, insignificant changes in the pattern of random sampling error over the next decade could result in the Grand Rapids MSA having anywhere between one and five counties in 2023.  Newaygo, Muskegon, Allegan, and Oceana counties could also become part of the Grand Rapids MSA with small changes in commuting rates, urbanized area boundaries, or methodology.

The names of statistical areas in this region are also problematic.  Allegan county will now be known as the "Holland Micropolitan Area" while "Holland" does not appear in the name of the statistical area that includes Ottawa county. This may cause some confusion, since 79% of the city of Holland and 90% of the Holland urbanized area are in Ottawa county,  (Ottawa county qualified as a statistical area on account of the Holland urbanized area, and Allegan county qualified on account of the Otsego-Plainwell urban cluster.  However, Holland lost its status as a "principal city" with the merger of Ottawa county into the Grand Rapids-Wyoming MSA.  Even though Allegan county's share of the Holland urbanized area is somewhat smaller than the Otsego-Plainwell urban cluster--9,558 vs. 11,740 residents--the small portion of Holland that lies in Allegan county is recognized as the principal city of the micropolitan area because it is larger than any of the county's other individual cities.)

Saginaw Bay Area

Because of a small increase in the extent of the Midland urbanized area, Midland county regained its metropolitan status which had been lost in 2003. Each of the three counties of the Saginaw-Bay-Midland tri-county area will be a stand-alone MSA because no pair of these counties has a commuting rate in excess of 25%. However, these three counties will comprise a Combined Statistical Area.

Other Metropolitan Areas

No changes have taken place with respect to the single-county metropolitan areas for Bay, Berrien, Calhoun, Genesee, Jackson, Monroe, Muskegon, Saginaw, and Washtenaw counties. The Kalamazoo MSA will continue to include Van Buren county; Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton counties will continue to comprise a single MSA; and Cass county will continue to be a central county in the South Bend MSA by virtue of the 8,088 residents of that county who are part of the South Bend urbanized area.

Traverse Bay Area

Grand Traverse county will, once again, be the center of a four county "micropolitan" area that includes Leelanau, Benzie, and Kalkaska counties. However, if the Traverse City urban area grows even half as much in the current decade as it did in the past decade, then the current methodology will result in all of these counties being classified as metropolitan in 2023.

New Micropolitan Areas

Hillsdale and Mason counties now qualify as micropolitan areas due to growth in the Hillsdale and Ludington urban clusters.  Ionia county also becomes a micropolitan area now that it no longer qualifies as part of the Grand Rapids-Wyoming MSA due to a statistically insignificant decrease in its commuting rate to Kent county. 

New Combined Statistical Areas

New CSA's include the Kalamazoo-Battle Creek-Portage CSA (consisting of Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Saint Joseph, and Van Buren counties) and the Mount Pleasant-Alma CSA (consisting of Isabella and Gratiot counties).

Updated 3/11/13