Census Quick Facts: The Difference Between “Urban” and “Rural” areas

May 22, 2020 /

You’ve probably heard the words “urban” and “rural” to describe geographical areas around Kern County during the census, but do you know what distinguishes them from each other?

Is it as simple as referring to the big city as “urban”, and the country as “rural”?

The Answer: Sometimes, but that is what makes living in the central valley so unique during the census since many of these areas share similar geographical characteristics.

Key differences between urban and rural areas:
A settlement where the population is very high and has the features of a built environment (an environment that provides basic facilities for human activity), is known as urban. Rural is the geographical region located in the outer parts of the cities or towns.

The Census Bureau identifies two types of urban areas:

Urbanized Areas (UAs) of 50,000 or more people.

Urban Clusters (UCs) of at least 2,500 and less than 50,000 people.

“Rural” encompasses all population, housing, and territory not included within an urban area.

Take a look at the current population numbers below from a group of cities and census-designated places (CDP) around Kern County.

*Current populations are based on estimates from the latest census.

Bakersfield (UA):
*Current population: 390,233
2010 US Census recorded the population at 347,483.

Wasco (UC):
*Current population: 29,032
2010 US Census recorded the population at 25,545

Arvin (UC):
*Current population: 21,782
2010 US Census recorded the population at 19,304.

Shafter (UC):
*Current population:  21,032
2010 US Census recorded the population at 16,988

Lamont (UC / census-designated place):
*Current population: 15,222
2010 US Census recorded the population at 15,120.

Tehachapi (UC):
*Current population: 12,616
2010 US Census recorded the population at 14,414.

Taft (UC):
*Current population: 9,446
2010 US Census recorded the population at 9,327.

Lost Hills (census-designated place):
*Current population: 1,943
2010 US Census recorded the population at 2,412.

Does the UA/UC/Rural census classification match up with their population #’s and geographical characteristics?  

Related Content: African American leaders take virtual outreach approach to inform hard-to-count population of Census during pandemic

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Matt Munoz

Matt Munoz

Matt Munoz is Project Coordinator and Reporter at Kern Sol News. He may be reached at matt@southkernsol.org.