New Jersey hardly has a brand where Census Bureau statistics are concerned.  It’s what we have in common with the flyover states.  We’re somehow stepchildren of New York or Philadelphia.  Even Newark barely has its own identity.

When it comes to Morris County in particular, its harder still to maintain an identity.  At best, we’re lumped together with Newark and Jersey City.  Or we can pretend we’re Bergen-Passaic.

This matters for those of us trying to spread the good news about Morris County, we have to first explain ourselves, using up precious attention time.  The elephant in the room is our Metropolitan Area.

MSA – Metropolitan Statistical Area

It happens that the Whitehouse’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is the place where statistical areas are defined.  The Census Bureau then uses these areas for their analyses.

Here’s what I mean…. consider Core-Based Statistical Areas. 

Our CBSA, the NY-NNJ-LI-PA Metro Area

CBSAs are geographic areas consisting of one or more counties anchored by an urban center of at least 10,000 people plus adjacent counties that are socioeconomically tied to the urban center by commuting.

Morris County is part of the New York – Northern New Jersey – Long Island, NY-NJ-PA CBSA.

Then there are MSAs = Metropolitan Statistical Areas.  These are geographic regions with a relatively high population density at its core and close economic ties throughout the area. Some MSAs, like our own – the NY-NJ-PA region – contain more than one large city.  The problem is that NYC holds a dominant position.

Unrecognized in this analysis is that a small fraction of Morris County commutes into Manhattan, or any borough of New York City.

Micropolitan Statistical Areas

A micropolitan area  is centered on an urban area with a population of at least 10,000 but fewer than 50,000 people. They are primarily used for labor market statistics.

Micropolitan areas do not have the economic or political importance of large cities, but are nevertheless significant centers of population and production, drawing workers and shoppers from a wide local area.  OMB has identified 536 of them.  None of them are in New Jersey.

Micropolitan Centers within 150 and 200 miles of Morristown

The Micropolitan cities closes to us, i.e. to Morristown, are:

  • Torrington, CT
  • Hudson, NY
  • Berwick, PA
  • Sunbury, PA
  • Lewisburg, PA
  • Selinsgrove, PA

The last three on the list are just a few miles from each other along the Susquehanna river.   Sunbury and Selinsgrove are 6 miles apart.

A bit further away from us, Easton and Cambridge on Maryland’s Eastern Shore are 17 miles apart.  Ditto Gloversville and Amsterdam, NY.  They’re 14 miles apart.

You see where I’m going with this.  Morristown is 20 miles from Newark as the crow flies.  We’re about 10 miles from Summit.  To the extent that we meet the other definitions of a Micropolitan area (and we do), Morristown should declare itself a micropolitan city.  Then set the goal to have others acknowledge it.