Rural-Urban Commuting Area (RUCA) codes

What are Rural-Urban Commuting Area (RUCA) codes?

RUCA codes are a Census tract-based classification that uses standard Census measures of population density, levels of urbanization and journey-to-work commuting to characterize all US Census tracts with respect to their rural/urban status and commuting relationships to other tracts. There is also a ZIP code based version of the RUCAs that approximates the Census tract version.

In the RUCA classification, each tract (or ZIP code) is assigned a primary code between 1 and 10 depending on metropolitan/micropolitan/small town/rural characteristics and basic commuting flows. Tracts (or ZIP codes) are also assigned a secondary code based on secondary commuting flows. Using RUCAs, Census tracts (and ZIP codes) can be usefully grouped in multiple ways to facilitate geographical analysis at many levels.

The current versions of the RUCA codes are based on 2010 US Census Data and American Community Survey data collected from 2006 through 2010.

RUCAs were developed collaboratively between

  • Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP)
  • US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS)
  • WWAMI Rural Health Research Center (WWAMI RHRC), funded by FORHP and ERS

The principal developers were Richard Morrill, PhD (WWAMI RHRC), John Cromartie, PhD (ERS) and Gary Hart, PhD (WWAMI RHRC).

Where can CURRENT versions of RUCA codes be obtained?



Current versions of the Census tract and ZIP code RUCAs based on 2010 Census data 

Available for download ONLY from the US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service website  

Census tract RUCAs based on 1990 and 2000 Census data 

USDA Economic Research Service site ( ) has links to the 1990 and 2000 Census-tract RUCA files. 

Users are cautioned that methodological changes to both the Census and the RUCA classification scheme may impair comparability of analyses based on different versions of the RUCAs.


Where can earlier ZIP code RUCAs be obtained?

Three versions of the ZIP code RUCAs are available on this site:



Version 1.1 

The first publicly released version of the ZIP code RUCAs. It is based on 1998 ZIP code areas and 1990 Census commuting data. 

Version 2.0(a) 

Based on 2004 ZIP code areas and 2000 Census commuting data. 

Version 2.0(b) 

An update of Version 2.0(a), based on 2006 ZIP code areas and 2000 Census commuting data.