WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and 21 of her Senate colleagues today urged the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to reconsider proposed changes to the 2010 classifications of metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas. These classifications are tied to several housing and transportation programs and have important impacts on their respective cities and towns. The Senators wrote that “this change could result in the loss of federal programming for many small- and mid-sized counties, cities and towns across the country.”
Mankato, MN, and Grand Forks, ND, are among the 144 cities and towns across the country this recommendation is expected to affect.
The Senators also note that the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in thousands of people temporarily leaving their home cities, with a four percent increase in address changes in 2020 compared to 2019. As a result, “population data based on the calendar years of 2020 or 2021 is likely to be misleading and inaccurate in predicting long-term trends about where Americans will choose to live.”
In addition to Klobuchar, the letter was signed by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), John Hoeven (R-ND), Tina Smith (D-MN), Patty Murray (D-WA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Angus King (I-ME), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mark Warner (D-VA), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), and Joe Manchin (D-WV).
Full text of the letter can be found HERE and below.
Dear Deputy Administrator Mancini:
We write to express our concern regarding the Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Area Standards Review Committee’s proposed changes to the 2010 standards for determining metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas and urge you to reconsider the Committee’s recommendation.
The designations of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas have important ramifications for the counties, cities and towns that receive these designations. While the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has stated that these designations are established solely for statistical purposes and are not intended to be used in program funding formulas, several federal programs and agencies rely on these designations for the allocation of funding and provision of services. For example, the statutory authorization for the Community Development Block Grant explicitly defines a “metropolitan area” as a standard metropolitan statistical area as established by OMB.
The Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Area Standards Review Committee has recently recommended that the minimum urban area population to qualify as a Metropolitan Statistical Area be increased from 50,000 to 100,000. Because of the reliance on this designation by various federal agencies and programs, this change could result in the loss of federal programming for many small- and mid-sized counties, cities and towns across the country. Furthermore, these recommendations have been proposed without the ability to comprehensively understand the potential ramifications of such changes or an explanation as to what will trigger future threshold increases—potentially allowing future changes to be made in an arbitrary manner.
Additionally, the coronavirus pandemic has also led thousands of people to temporarily migrate to new areas of the country outside of their permanent homes. According to data from the United States Postal Service, nearly 16 million people changed addresses during the pandemic—an increase of almost four percent from the year before. This significant increase in people moving as a result of the pandemic demonstrates that population data based on the calendar years of 2020 or 2021 is likely to be misleading and inaccurate in predicting long-term trends about where Americans will choose to live.
Given the anticipated negative impact of this proposed change and the inability to accurately track where Americans will choose to permanently settle following the coronavirus pandemic, we respectfully request that you reconsider the Committee’s recommendation to increase the minimum urban area population to qualify as a metropolitan statistical area, and instead establish a comprehensive process to engage with relevant stakeholders to fully evaluate the impact of such a change on the distribution of federal resources and services to arrive at any future proposed change.
Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter.