Rural-Urban Continuum Codes (RUCC) subdivides counties into 10 categories distinguished by population size in census-defined urbanized areas and by adjacency to metropolitan areas. To be adjacent, counties must be contiguous and have at least 2% of the resident labor force commuting to a central metropolitan county.
A county-based system such as RUCC, which attempts to describe the diversity in settlement patterns in a relatively large area by a single number, may not provide an accurate depiction. However, because county boundaries don't change much, every county will be represented by a measure, even after an extended period of time.
RUCC were developed at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's, Economic Research Service, as a refinement of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) definition.
The name of this HCUP data element and the version of the categorization have changed over time:
- Starting in 2014 HCUP databases, the classification of counties is based on the 2010 Census and the OMB 2013 Core Based Statistical Area (CBSA) definitions.
- Starting in the 2013 HCUP databases, the data element name is PL_RUCC.
- Between 2003 and 2012, the data element name was PL_RUCC2003 and the classification of counties was based on the 2000 Census and the OMB 2003 CBSA definitions.
- In 2002, the data element name was PL_RUCC and the classification of counties was based on the 1990 Census and the OMB 1993 Metropolitan definitions.
- This information was not included on the HCUP databases prior to 2002.