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Rural-Urban Commuting Area Codes (RUCAs)

RUCAs, Rural-Urban Commuting Area Codes, are a new Census tract-based classification scheme that utilizes the standard Bureau of Census Urbanized Area and Urban Cluster definitions in combination with work commuting information to characterize all of the nation's Census tracts regarding their rural and urban status and relationships. In addition, a ZIP Code RUCA approximation was developed.

This collaborative project between Health Resources and Service Administration's (HRSA's ) Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP), the Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service (ERS), and the WWAMI Rural Health Research Center (RHRC) was funded by the ORHP and ERS. Principal developers are Richard Morrill, PhD (RHRC); John Cromartie, PhD (ERS); and Gary Hart, PhD (formerly of the RHRC, now at the University of North Dakota).

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News

The federal Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP) has funded a two-year project to create a standardized national rural frontier/remote definition.

This new federal definition of rural frontier/remote, currently under way, is related to the RUCAs and consists of the same study team. A second aim of the project is to develop a similar definition for islands. The Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service (ERS) is a full partner in this project and is also providing significant in-kind funding. This project started in fall 2008.

The core project team members are Gary Hart (University of North Dakota), John Cromartie (ERS), and Richard Morrill (University of Washington). The ORHP project officer is Steve Hirsch. The project includes, an internal technical advisory group (Mike Ratcliff, Bureau of Census; Andy Isserman, University of Illinois; Eric Larson, University of Washington; and David Plane, University of Arizona), an internal stakeholder group (9 members), four regional stakeholder meetings that have already taken place (DC, Seattle, Omaha, and Albuquerque), one stakeholder meeting in 2010 to react to the proposed frontier definition, and one stakeholder meeting in 2010 to address an island definition. The project will be completed by the end of summer 2011.

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UWRUCA Data IconZIP code-level RUCA files available for downloading and information concerning code definitions, methods, uses and other issues.

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UWRUCA Projects IconDescriptions of current and future projects.

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UWRUCA Maps IconMapped versions of 2 ZIP code-level RUCA categorization schemes.

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