Rural-Urban Continuum Codes
Last updated: April 15, 2014

About Rural-Urban Continuum Codes

Rural-Urban Continuum Codes were developed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)External Web Site Policy.

Rural-Urban Continuum Codes form a classification scheme that distinguishes metropolitan (metro) counties by the population size of their metro area, and nonmetropolitan (nonmetro) counties by degree of urbanization and adjacency to a metro area or areas. For more information from the USDA or to download the original data, go to their section on Rural-Urban Continuum CodesExternal Web Site Policy.

Rural-Urban Continuum Codes are available for the following years: 2013, 2003, 1993, 1983 and 1974. In concept, the 2003 and 2013 versions of the Rural-Urban Continuum Codes are comparable with that of earlier decades. However, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) made major changes in its metro area delineation procedures for the 2000 Census, and the Census Bureau changed the way in which rural and urban are measured. Therefore, the new Rural-Urban Continuum Codes are not fully comparable with those of earlier years. OMB's changes added some additional metro areas by no longer requiring that a metro area must have at least 100,000 population if its urbanized area has no place of at least 50,000 people. More importantly, simplifying the worker commuting criteria that determine outlying metro counties had the effect of both adding numerous new outlying counties to metro status while deleting a smaller number that were previously metro (see Methodology for the Rural-Urban Coninuum CodesExternal Web Site Policy).

This coding scheme was originated in 1975 by David L. Brown, Fred K. Hines, and John M. Zimmer, then of the Economic Research Service (ERS), for a report Social and Economic Characteristics of the Population in Metro and Nonmetro Counties: 1970. It was updated after both the 1980 and 1990 censuses, with a somewhat more restrictive procedure for determining metro adjacency. The versions based on the 1970, 1980, and 1990 Censuses are all found on the ERS web site.

Using Rural-Urban Continuum Codes with SEER*Stat

Due to county changes over time and to make this data available for use with SEER*Stat, modifications were made to the county Rural-Urban Continuum Codes when necessary. Most of the Rural-Urban Continuum codes match identically with the codes from the USDA. Codes that do not match the codes provided by the USDA can be found in the Differences section.

Download Rural-Urban Continuum Code Spreadsheet

The following spreadsheet has the Rural-Urban Continuum Codes for 1974, 1983, 1993, 2003, and 2013 that are used in SEER*Stat (with modifications): [MS Excel File] [PDF File]

Rural-Urban Continuum Code Definitions for 2003 and 2013

Metro counties:

  • 1 (Counties in metro areas of 1 million population or more)
  • 2 (Counties in metro areas of 250,000 to 1 million population)
  • 3 (Counties in metro areas of fewer than 250,000 population)

Nonmetro counties:

  • 4 (Urban population of 20,000 or more, adjacent to a metro area)
  • 5 (Urban population of 20,000 or more, not adjacent to a metro area)
  • 6 (Urban population of 2,500 to 19,999, adjacent to a metro area)
  • 7 (Urban population of 2,500 to 19,999, not adjacent to a metro area)
  • 8 (Completely rural or less than 2,500 urban population, adjacent to a metro area)
  • 9 (Completely rural or less than 2,500 urban population, not adjacent to a metro area)
  • 88 (Unknown-Alaska/Hawaii State/not official USDA Rural-Urban Continuum code)
  • 99 (Unknown/not official USDA Rural-Urban Continuum code)

Rural-Urban Continuum Code Definitions for 1974, 1983, and 1993

Metro counties:

  • 0 (Central counties of metro areas of 1 million population or more)
  • 1 (Fringe counties of metro areas of 1 million population or more)
  • 2 (Counties in metro areas of 250,000 to 1 million population)
  • 3 (Counties in metro areas of fewer than 250,000 population)

Nonmetro counties:

  • 4 (Urban population of 20,000 or more, adjacent to a metro area)
  • 5 (Urban population of 20,000 or more, not adjacent to a metro area)
  • 6 (Urban population of 2,500 to 19,999, adjacent to a metro area)
  • 7 (Urban population of 2,500 to 19,999, not adjacent to a metro area)
  • 8 (Completely rural or less than 2,500 urban population, adjacent to a metro area)
  • 9 (Completely rural or less than 2,500 urban population, not adjacent to a metro area)
  • 88 (Unknown-Alaska/Hawaii State/not official USDA Rural-Urban Continuum code)
  • 99 (Unknown/not official USDA Rural-Urban Continuum code)

Differences

Due to county changes over time and to make this data available for use with SEER*Stat, modifications were made to the county Rural-Urban Continuum Codes when necessary. Most of the Rural-Urban Continuum codes match identically with the codes from the USDA. When county geographies change, however, we have provided estimated Rural-Urban Continuum code values for the old geographic areas after the change and for the new geographic areas before the change in order to allow analysis throughout the time period. Refer to Geographic Boundary Change Notes on the US Census BureauExternal Web Site Policy web site for details.

For example, in 1983, Yuma County, Arizona split into Yuma and La Paz Counties. Separate death records for the two counties were first reported in 1994. The USDA provided a Rural-Urban Continuum code for the combined county in 1974 and separate Rural-Urban Continuum codes in 1983, 1993 2003, and 2013. We try to follow this methodology when possible in regards to other county situations. We provide an estimated 1974 Rural-Urban Continuum code for the separate counties (equal to the combined county Rural-Urban Continuum code). We also provide estimated 1983, 1993, 2003, and 2013 Rural-Urban Continuum codes for the combined counties (equal to the Rural-Urban Continuum code of Yuma County - the larger of the two). Here is the complete set of Rural-Urban Continuum codes for these counties:

  Rural-Urban Continuum 1974 Rural-Urban Continuum 1983 Rural-Urban Continuum 1993 Rural-Urban Continuum 2003 Rural-Urban Continuum 2013
La Paz/Yuma Combined (1969-1993) 5 5 3 3 3
La Paz (1994+) 5 7 7 6 6
Yuma (1994+) 5 5 3 3 3

It is important to note that the Rural-Urban Continuum code value for deaths that occur in the geographic area of the current La Paz county may shift from a relatively urban Rural-Urban Continuum code before the split (for the combined county) to a more rural Rural-Urban Continuum code after the split (for the more rural La Paz county). In this example, the Rural-Urban Continuum code will change for the deaths in La Paz county for all sets of Rural-Urban Continuum codes except for Rural-Urban Continuum 1974 (which has a common value of 5 for all areas). This shift occurs starting in 1994 when separate deaths for La Paz County were first reported. To minimize the impact of these shifts, the estimated values of the combined county is set to the value of the larger county (the county with the most deaths).

Alaska Incidence Data

Since incidence data is only available at the state level for this submission, we had to treat Alaska as a state (not counties). We decided to code the state (02900) with a Rural-Urban Continuum Code that we created of 88 - Alaska/Hawaii unknown. You are able to group Alaska with other Rural-Urban Continuum Values using a user defined variable.

Alaska Mortality Data

Aleutian Islands Census Area, Alaska (02010); Aleutian East Borough, Alaska (02013); Aleutian West Census Area, Alaska (02016)
Since individual county data is not available in our data until 1994 for Aleutian East Borough, Alaska (02013) and Aleutian West Census Area, Alaska (02016), we used the grouped county, Aleutian Islands Census Area (02010), which includes both Aleutian East Borough and Aleutian West Census Area. We coded the Rural-Urban Continuum Code for the grouped county the same as the county with the greater population (Aleutian West Census Area). The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes are as follows:

  • 9 (Completely rural or less than 2,500 urban population, not adjacent to a metro area) for 1974 and 2013
  • 7 (Urban population of 2,500 to 19,999, not adjacent to a metro area) for 1983, 1993, 2003

Dillingham Census Area/Lake and Peninsula Borough (02910); Dillingham Census Area (02070); Lake and Peninsula Borough (02164)
Since individual county data is not available in our data until 1994 for Dillingham Census Area (02070) and Lake and Peninsula Borough (02164), we needed to create a code for the grouped county Dillingham Census Area/Lake and Peninsula Borough (02910) which includes both Dillingham Census Area and Lake and Peninsula Borough. The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes for the grouped county match identically to the individual counties for all years. The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes are as follows:

  • 9 (Completely rural or less than 2,500 urban population, not adjacent to a metro area) for 1974, 1983, 1993, 2003 and 2013

Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon Census Area (02232); Skagway-Yakutat-Angoon Census Area (02231); Yakutat City and Borough (02282);
Since individual county data or grouped county information for these counties is not available for all years, the Rural-Urban Continuum Codes that are missing are derived from the grouped or county our data that is available for that year period. The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes are as follows:

  • 7 (Urban population of 2,500 to 19,999, not adjacent to a metro area) for 1974
  • 9 (Completely rural or less than 2,500 urban population, not adjacent to a metro area) for 1983, 1993, 2003, and 2013

Skagway-Hoonan-Angoon Census Area (02232); Skagway Municipality (02230); Hoonah-Angoon Census Area (02105);
In June of 2007, Skagway city was added to Skagway Municipality. The remaining part of Skagway Hoonan-Angoon Cenus Area was renamed Hoonah-Angoon Census Area. Skagway Municipality and Hoonah-Angoon Census Area are not available in our data until 2011.

  • 9 (Completely rural or less than 2,500 urban population, not adjacent to a metro area) for 1974, 1983, 1993 and 2003 for Skagway Municipality and Hoonah-Angoon Census Area and for 2013 for Skagway-Hoonan-Angoon Census Area

Prince of Wales - Outer Ketchickan Census Area (02201); Ketchikan Gateway Borough (02130); Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area (02198) ;
In May of 2008, Ketchikan Gateway Borough annexed a significant portion of Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan Census Area. The remainder of Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan Census Area was renamed to Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area.

  • 9 (Completely rural or less than 2,500 urban population, not adjacent to a metro area) for 1974, 1983, 1993 and 2003 for Prince of Wales Hyder Census Area and 2013 for Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan Census Area

Wrangell-Petersburg Census Area (02280); Wrangell City and Borough (02275); Petersburg Census Area (02195);
In June of 2008, the Wrangell city portion of Wrangell-Petersburg Census Area was organized into Wrangell City and Borough. The remaining part of Wrangell-Petersburg Census Area was renamed Petersburg Census Area. Wrangell City and Borogh and Petersburg Census Area are not available in our data until 2011.

  • 9 (Completely rural or less than 2,500 urban population, not adjacent to a metro area) for 1974, 1983, 1993 and 2003 for Wrangel City and Borough and Petersburg Census Area.
  • 7 (Urban population of 2,500 to 19,999, not adjacent to a metro area) for 2013 for Wrangell-Petersburg Census Area

Arizona

La Paz County (04012) and Yuma County (04027)
Since county data is not available in our data until 1994, we needed to create a code for the grouped county La Paz/Yuma (04910) 1969-1993. We coded the Rural-Urban Continuum Code for the grouped county the same as the county with the greater population (Yuma). The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes are as follows:

  • 5 (Nonmetro county with urban population of 20,000 or more, not adjacent to a metro area) for 1974 and 1983
  • 3 (County in metro area of fewer than 250,000 population) for 1993, 2003, and 2013

Colorado

Adams County (08001 and 08911), Boulder County (08013 and 08912), Broomfield County (08014), Jefferson County (08059 and 08913) and Weld County (08123 and 08914)
Broomfield, Colorado (08014) became a county in November 2001. Mortality data became available for Broomfield in 2003. Due to the fact that this county was created from parts of four other counties (Adams, Boulder, Jefferson, Weld), new counties were created to address the fact that the boundaries have changed over time.

  • Adams county is represented by a FIPS code of (08911) for data from 1969-2002 and the Rural-Urban Continuum code for (08911) matches (08001) for all years.
  • Boulder county is represented by a FIPS code of (08912) for data from 1969-2002 and the Rural-Urban Continuum code for (08912) matches (08013) for all years.
  • Jefferson county is represented by a FIPS code of (08913) for data from 1969-2002 and the Rural-Urban Continuum code for (08913) matches (08059) for all years.
  • Weld county is represented by a FIPS code of (08914) for data from 1969-2002 and the Rural-Urban Continuum code for (08914) matches (08123) for all years.
We created Rural-Urban Continuum Codes for 1974 and 1983 for Broomfield (08014) that match the counties that comprise Broomfield except Weld.

The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes for Broomfield (08014) are as follows:

  • 1 (Fringe counties of metro areas of 1 million population or more) for 1974 and 1983
  • 0 (Central counties of metro areas of 1 million population or more) for 1993
  • 1 (Counties in metro areas of 1 million population or more) for 2003 and 2013

Hawaii

Since data is only available at the state level for 1969-1999 for mortality, we had to treat Hawaii as a state (not counties). We decided to code the state (15900) with a Rural-Urban Continuum Code that we created of 88 - Alaska/Hawaii unknown. For 1973-1999, in the incidence data the individual counties are coded as 99 unknown.

USDA merged Kalawao with Maui when computing the rural urban continuum codes for 2003 and 2013. This was done because of Kalawao’s small population and because it’s not really a county, but a judicial district of Maui county.   For the 1974, 1983 and 1993, Kalawao was coded the same as Maui county.

New Mexico

Cibola County (35006) and Valencia County (35061)
Since county data is not available in our data until 1982, we needed to create a code for the grouped county Cibola/Valencia (35910) 1969-1981. We coded the Rural-Urban Continuum Code for the grouped county the same as the county with the greater population (Valencia). The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes are as follows:

  • 6 (Nonmetro county with urban population of 2,500-19,999, adjacent to a metro area) for 1974
  • 4 (Nonmetro county with urban population of 20,000 or more, adjacent to a metro area) for 1983
  • 2 (County in metro area of 250,000 to 1 million population) for 1993, 2003, and 2013

New York

New York City (Combined) (36910)
Since individual county data is not available in our data until 1980, we needed to create a code for the grouped county New York City (36910) 1969-1979. The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes for the grouped county match identically to the individual counties for all years. The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes are as follows:

  • 0 (Central counties of metro areas of 1 million population or more) for 1974, 1983, 1993
  • 1 (County in metro area with 1 million population or more) for 2003 and 2013

Virginia

Alleghany County with Clifton Forge City, Virginia (51005); Covington City, Virginia (51580)
Since individual county data is not available in our data until 1980, we need to create a code for the grouped county, Alleghany/Clifton Forge/Covingto (51916) 1969-1979. The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes for the grouped county match identically to the individual counties for all years. The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes are as follows:

  • 6 (Urban population of 2,500 to 19,999, adjacent to a metro area) for 1974
  • 7 (Urban population of 2,500 to 19,999, not adjacent to a metro area) for 1983
  • 6 (Urban population of 2,500 to 19,999, adjacent to a metro area) for 1993, 2003, and 2013

Arlington County, Virginia (51013); Alexandria City, Virginia (51510); Fairfax City, Virginia (51600); Fairfax County, Virginia (51059); Falls Church City (51610)
Since individual county data is not available in our data until 1980, we need to create a code for the grouped county, Arling/Alexan/Fairfax/Falls Church (51918) 1969-1979. The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes for the grouped county match identically to the individual counties for all years. The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes are as follows:

  • 1 (Fringe counties of metro areas of 1 million population or more) for 1974 and 1983
  • 0 (Central counties of metro areas of 1 million population or more) for 1993
  • 1 (Counties in metro areas of 1 million population or more) for 2003 and 2013

Bedford City, Virginia (51515); Bedford County, Virginia (51019)
Since individual county data is not available in our data until 1980, we need to create a code for the grouped county, Bedford City and County (51917) 1969-1979. The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes for the grouped county match identically to the individual counties for all years. The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes are as follows:

  • 6 (Urban population of 2,500 to 19,999, adjacent to a metro area) for 1974 and 1983
  • 3 (Counties in metro areas of fewer than 250,000 population) for 1993 and 2003
  • 2 (Counties in metro areas of 250,000 to 1 million or more) for 2013

Henry County, Virginia (51089); Martinsville City, Virginia (51690)
Since individual county data is not available in our data until 1980, we need to create a code for the grouped county, Henry/Martinsville (51913) 1969-1979. The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes for the grouped county match identically to the individual counties for all years. The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes are as follows:

  • 5 (Urban population of 20,000 or more, not adjacent to a metro area) for 1974 and 1983
  • 4 (Urban population of 20,000 or more, adjacent to a metro area) for 1993, 2003, and 2013

James City County, Virginia (51095); York County, Virginia (51119); Poquoson City, Virginia (51735); Williamsburg City, Virginia (51830)
Since individual county data is not available in our data until 1982, we need to create a code for the grouped county, James/York/Poqouson/Williamsburg (51911) 1969-1981 The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes for the grouped county match identically to the individual counties for all years. The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes are as follows:

  • 2 (Counties in metro areas of 250,000 to 1 million population) for 1974
  • 1 (Fringe counties of metro areas of 1 million population or more) for 1983
  • 0 (Central counties of metro areas of 1 million population or more) for 1993
  • 1 (Counties in metro areas of 1 million population or more) for 2003 and 2013

Prince William County, Virginia (51153); Manassas City, Virginia (51683); Manassas Park City, Virginia (51685)
Since individual county data is not available in our data until 1982, we need to create a code for the grouped county, Prince William/Manassas (51910) 1969-1981. The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes for the grouped county match identically to the individual counties for all years. The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes are as follows:

  • 1 (Fringe counties of metro areas of 1 million population or more) for 1974 and 1983
  • 0 (Central counties of metro areas of 1 million population or more) for 1993
  • 1 (Counties in metro areas of 1 million population or more) for 2003 and 2013

Rockingham County, Virginia (51165); Harrisonburg City, Virginia (51660)
Since individual county data is not available in our data until 1980, we need to create a code for the grouped county, Rockingham/Harrisonburg (51914) 1969-1979. The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes for the grouped county match identically to the individual counties for all years. The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes are as follows:

  • 7 (Urban population of 2,500 to 19,999, not adjacent to a metro area) for 1974
  • 5 (Urban population of 20,000 or more, not adjacent to a metro area) 1983 and 1993
  • 3 (Counties in metro areas of fewer than 250,000 population) for 2003 and 2013

Spotsylvania County, Virginia (51177); Stafford County, Virginia (51179); Fredericksburg, Virginia (51630)
Since individual county data is not available in our data until 1980, we need to create a code for the grouped county, Spotsylvan/Stafford/Fredericksburg (51915) 1969-1979. Due to the significant changes in population for these counties, the codes are a combination of the county values. The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes are as follows:

  • 6 (Urban population of 2,500 to 19,999, adjacent to a metro area) for 1974
  • 1 (Fringe counties of metro areas of 1 million population or more) for 1983
  • 0 (Central counties of metro areas of 1 million population or more) for 1993
  • 1 (Counties in metro areas of 1 million population or more) for 2003 and 2013

Counties not included in the SEER*Stat version of the Rural-Urban Continuum Code data

  • Since Yellowstone National Park County, Montana (30113) dissolved in 1997 and their data is no longer stored in SEER*Stat individually, we did not include their Rural-Urban Continuum Code data separately but rather it is included with Gallatin County, Montana (30031).
  • Since Clifton Forge, Virginia (51560) changed from an independent city to a dependent town and their data is no longer stored in SEER*Stat individually, we did not include their Rural-Urban Continuum Code data separately but rather it is included with Alleghany County, Virginia (51005).
  • Since South Boston City, Virginia (51780) changed from an independent city to a dependent town and their data is no longer stored in SEER*Stat individually, we did not include their Rural-Urban Continuum Code data separately but rather it is included with Halifax County, Virginia (51083).