Although Americans tend to think of themselves as small town or even rural in character, a look at the Census Bureau's newly released classification of urban and rural populations based on 2010 census data shows how wrong they are. In 2010, fully 80.7 percent of Americans lived in an urban area. Not only are most Americans urban dwellers, but the urban population is growing faster than the rural population. Between 2000 and 2010, the urban population grew 12.1 percent, more than the 9.7 percent national growth rate and far outpacing the 7.3 percent increase in the rural population.
Many people use the terms urban and metropolitan interchangeably. In fact, urban is a much more precise definition of city life. Metropolitan areas are broad brush, comprised of groups of counties, many of which contain rural areas. In contrast, urban areas are a far higher resolution of lifestyle, comprised of census tracts or blocks that are home to at least 2,500 people. Once the Census Bureau defines urban areas (which it does every 10 years), rural areas are the remainder. Despite our overwhelming urbanity, many Americans continue to think rural. That may be because 97 percent of the nation's land area is rural. Only 3 percent is urban. But 249 million Americans are crammed into that 3 percent.
per American Consumers Newsletter
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