Almost 1,000 cities, towns and villages in the U.S. lost their status as urban areas on Thursday as the U.S. Census Bureau released a new list of places considered urban based on revised criteria.
Around 3.5 million residents living in the small cities, hamlets, towns and villages that lost their urban designation were bumped into the rural category. The new criteria raised the population threshold from 2,500 to 5,000 people and housing units were added to the definition.
The change matters because rural and urban areas often qualify for different types of federal funding for transportation, housing, health care, education and agriculture. The federal government doesn’t have a standard definition of urban or rural, but the Census Bureau’s definition often provides a baseline.