“Metropolitan” is the new delineation for the Twin Falls area comprised of Twin Falls and Jerome counties, announced in the Federal Register by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) dated August 2017. Before that, this geographic area or ‘delineation’ was designated the Twin Falls Micropolitan Statistical Area (MicSA).
In practical terms, what does this change mean?
The most important clue is found in the second word — Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The purpose of the delineation is strictly for statistical activities, although a number of agencies both inside and outside the federal government make use of the delineation for nonstatistical program applications.
This new delineation does not mean Twin Falls and Jerome counties are now classified urban rather than rural. Most MSAs are combinations of rural and urban counties. For example, the Boise MSA is comprised of five counties: Ada, Boise, Canyon, Gem and Owyhee. Ada County’s population is approaching the half million mark with Canyon County at almost a quarter of a million – both with urban characteristics, though Canyon has significant agricultural activities. However, the other three counties’ population falls within a range of 7,100 to 17,100, markedly more rural in nature.
Each federal agency has a mission or oversight, and how it applies the MSA delineation may depend on the characteristics of the area and how each agency defines it.
The Federal Register is the communication tool used by the federal government to distribute information formally to all entities. Its objective in this case was strictly to communicate the delineation, but not discern the nuances of the change. In short, there are rules and regulations that each federal agency follows and the impact of the delineation means different things to different groups. Therefore, the federal government as a whole does not attempt to summarize what effects the designation will have on the entity, in this case Twin Falls County and Jerome County.
The OMB is the entity that delineates Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The new MSAs traditionally are more numerous in the immediate years after the decennial Census.
What was the determining factor that moved Twin Falls from a micro to a metro?
Urban cluster is a term that applies to a specific density of population that, combined, totals greater than 50,000 two years in a row, delineating a MSA. The combined population of Kimberly and Twin Falls for 2014 and 2015 was the driving factor that moved the two counties of Twin Falls and Jerome from its MicSA designation to a MSA delineation. The Twin Falls MicSA had already met the commuting pattern requirements between the two counties of Jerome and Twin Falls.
Urban area is another term that can be confused with a MSA. It refers to a city, and the designation occurs after a decennial Census when a population has reached 50,000. Twin Falls is the sixth largest city in the state with the most recent population estimate at 49,202. It has not been considered an urban area yet. Learn more about the standards used to delineate Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas at:
The transition to an MSA delineation changes how and by whom certain statistics are calculated, such as nonfarm payroll and unemployment rate estimates. The Idaho Department of Labor released these adjusted and unadjusted estimates on a monthly basis for a MicSA. The unadjusted statistics will now be the responsibility of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the U.S. Department of Labor.
Jan.Roeser@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 735-2500 ext 3639