What Is a Census-Designated Place, Such As Shelby Township in Michigan?


Quick Answer

Census designated places are areas chosen by the U.S. Census Bureau to provide representative statistics for an unincorporated area. The census takers use the numbers from an incorporated area, known as the census designated place, and they use those numbers to apply data to the corresponding unincorporated area.

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Full Answer

The U.S. Census Bureau follows specific guidelines when determining census designated places. A census designated place must not include any incorporated cities or towns. For this reason, the boundaries for a census designated place may change from one census to the next. A census designated place cannot extend into more than one state.

Census designated places do have populations despite the fact that they are unincorporated. These places are typically in rural areas with sparse, spread-out populations. Census designated places don't have local governments that are set up the way that cities are, and they have no legal status as municipalities.

Some states and U.S. holdings have no incorporated areas as far as the U.S. Census Bureau is concerned. Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Guam are all made up of census designated places. In Puerto Rico, the census designated places are referred to as "zonas urbanas" in cities and more populated areas and "comunidades" in rural areas.

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