DEFINITION of 'Metropolitan Statistical Area  MSA'
A formal definition of metropolitan areas established by the Office of Management and Budget, a division of the U.S. Government. Metropolitan statistical areas serve to group counties and cities into specific geographic areas for the purposes of a population census and the compilation of related statistical data.
INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Metropolitan Statistical Area  MSA'
An earlier version of metropolitan statistical areas were known as standard metropolitan statistical areas (SMSAs). Modern MSAs are configured to represent contiguous geographic areas with a relatively high density of human population.
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