Time to use The Force to merge our MSA with Durham's

What can we as a region do in the next 10 years to force Raleigh and Durham, in the same metro area, to be in the same MSA once again? What as a region can we do to force this rather than be passively be at the hands of people who don’t live here.

Is there some campaign or lobby we can make? Or are we permanently dreaded to not carry our own weight because the OMB is full of brain dead numbskulls. We need to educate and force them to reconsider.


I want to form a alliance to force on them we have a compelling case, need for transit funding, lack of job growth, and RTP we should partner with business leaders to petition the government for merger. It’s why we lostAmazon in the first place.

The decisions are made based on their methodology and they don’t make exceptions, and they’re certainly not going to change their methodology just because some randos on an online forum are mad about just one of thousands of different decisions they made in their report. They aren’t elected officials, they don’t care what you think.


Well the methodology is flawed and hurts this area with lazer precision. Entities only care about MSA’s and this deliberately makes the area appear smaller and more irrlelevant than it is. A unified MSA could’ve gotten us Amazon HQ2, could’ve gotten us MLS, could get us MLB, but some numbskulls keep crippling us.

Find me one other metro as bifurcated and screwed over as this one by OMB. It doesn’t exist.


Brunswick Co being part of Myrtle Beach is more egregious for starters.


Brunswick was returned to Wilmington with the latest realignments.
FWIW, very few MSA had any changes whatsoever. Unfortunately Durham-Chapel Hill is one of the MSAs that had a negative change with the removal of 1 county.
While we can belly ache about our own MSA, consider the MSA destruction of New Orleans. In addition to having population decline ever since Katrina, New Orleans MSA lost a Parrish in the latest alignment and finds itself under 1M.


The standards are here:
They indicate that standards could be revised later this decade:
“OMB will reconvene the Standards Review Committee to conduct a full review of intercounty connectivity measures before 2028”

However, sending comments to OMB specific to this instance seems to be for naught, because they set one set of standards for the entire country.
“The remaining comments mostly raised issues outside of the scope of the request, in that they were directed at specific applications of the standards… Other comments requested different arrangements of multiple metropolitan areas, including three comments concerning merging the Raleigh-Cary, NC and Durham-Chapel Hill, NC metropolitan areas”

There is one recent instance of state-influenced delineation decisions, but it’s a weird one. OMB has long used county boundaries, but most New England states (where all land is within towns; there are no unincorporated areas within counties) have eliminated county governments. So Connecticut asked to have its MPO boundaries stand in as county boundaries, and OMB agreed.

Doing exactly the same wouldn’t help NC, since our MPOs are based on counties and besides, Raleigh and Durham have separate MPOs. Also, coming up with a completely new regional governance system for NC (just to suggest it to the feds) would be a great idea – but imagine the political battles in the General Assembly!


I don’t think anyone besides me & @jdb820 get it we’re screwed for awhile and a lot of you guys here and in this area simply don’t give a damn. We are gonna be in a bad place we need to be rebels, evil, aggressive politicians, and this is what I have a problem with the educated demographic in this area they rather wanna do things with study after fucking studies, then get aggressive and bid hard. Nothing wrong with being smart but other cities that are successful they didn’t play nice, they played mean. I don’t know why this area is cursed with NIMBYs and people who don’t want this area exciting why do we keep getting them and most of them from big cities. Furthermore 60+ year old are to blame also. We need politicians from cities like Portland, Seattle, Austin, Miami, Phoenix, San José down here who would be invested in growth here. I dream they say Raleigh is like Miami.

We need commuting pattern set back to 20% they know WFH is rising what have they been doing living under a rock.

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The rest of us don’t give a damn for two reasons:

there is nothing that can be done, and this designation does not matter nearly as much as you seem to be convinced it does.


The Triangle made it well past the point in the selection process where Amazon would’ve been considering just MSA population numbers for HQ2, and sports leagues are much more likely to look at media markets than just MSA or urban populations. The Triangle is certainly an edge case where the MSA fails to capture the reality of a multipolar urban area, but the CSA fills the gap perfectly; and again there is nothing that can be done to influence the decision making process.


Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill-Fayetteville: Nielsen DMA 23 containing multiple MSAs, two full CSAs, and most of a third. One major pro team, maybe a moonshot to get to two.

Las Vegas: Nielsen DMA 40 with a CSA/MSA that goes beyond the DMA (and sports team territory) boundaries. Two pro teams and all the leagues want in at any cost thinking tourism will make it extra viable.

Attitude matters.

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The reasons Las Vegas is getting those sports teams have absolutely nothing to do with MSA or CSA definitions but I would be in remiss if I didn’t point out the Las Vegas’ CSA is almost the size of our entire state.

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But they’re a smaller TV market, and state. That’s like saying Salt Lake City is a big market because they cover there whole state when in fact they’re actually the only TV DMA in Utah. Furthermore, there metro population, is literally 2/3 of that state’s population. Plus they have NBA and MLS, maybe MLB there a bid group there in the works. But it is about attitude and you have to admit we’re not serious.

So is this conversation about “attitude” or statistics? Because MSA definitions have nothing to do with “attitude”. It almost sounds like you’re agreeing with me that federal statistical definitions are ultimately unimportant when it comes to decisions made by businesses and sports leagues.

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It matters. When businesses that don’t know anything about the area make decisions about moving here based on the numbers they look at the numbers.

When they look at Raleigh’s MSA they see Jacksonville, Oklahoma City, Providence, Memphis.

If the MSAs were merged they’d see Nashville, Cinncinnati, Las Vegas.


Congress will have to force the president to direct the Census Bureau and OMB to revise from first principles, starting with a genuine discussion about whether 25% of residents from County B commuting in to County A is really the most appropriate way to define metropolitan areas in 2030 the way it was in 1970.

Then they have to be ordered to throw out last year’s lists when making next year’s lists, instead of starting from what we already had and looking for reasons to change them. I know they adjusted the UA definitions but we already saw that particular adjustment had very little real on-the-ground change in the shapes and determinations of urban areas.

Both processes are too heavily guided by institutional inertia, but short of a mandate from the elected part of the government, no changes are likely to be made.

(Note that there is a good reason for the institutional inertia. If there were frequent changes to the MSA lists, then tracking and comparing MSAs over time becomes significantly more difficult. Not impossible of course, and not enough to justify the inertia on its own. Not even a very good reason, honestly. But very much a reason and a justification much easier to explain to a bureaucratic organization than any justification for frequent and accurate revision.)


Can you break this down a little easier I don’t understand.

I suspect that the OMB is going to use the next 5 years to review and revise their criteria that objectively defines MSAs and CSAs. I suppose that they will be looking carefully at how hybrid work plays out as part of their analysis.
In the end, the invisible county line between Wake and Durham, and the decision to assemble land for RTP largely on the Durham County side of that line play important roles in how folks commute between counties.


Raleigh and Durham have higher work from home rates than most other metros due to the high tech industry presence here.