Economy

This Is the Smallest City in America

The federal government breaks down where people live into a number of categories. The best known are states, metropolitan areas and counties. Another, which is not as well known, is core-based statistical areas (CBSAs). There are 927 of them in the United States.

The U.S. Census Bureau defines CBSAs as follows:

Metropolitan statistical areas have at least one urbanized area of 50,000 or more population, plus adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured by commuting ties.

Micropolitan statistical areas are a new set of statistical areas that have at least one urban cluster of at least 10,000 but less than 50,000 population, plus adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured by commuting ties.


These were originally set up by the U.S. Office of Management.

The smallest CBSA is Vernon, Texas. Of the 12 smallest, six are in Texas. Vernon is northwest of Dallas, near the Oklahoma border. It has a population of 12,552, which is down 7.26% from the 2010 census. The population has been shrinking since 1980.

Vernon’s population is 51% white and 34% Latino or Hispanic, according to the Census Bureau. The median household income is an unusually low $42,533, much more than $20,000 below the U.S. number. The poverty rate is an extraordinarily high 21.8%. The city covers just under eight square miles.

Vernon describes itself as “Where the West Really Begins.” If so, the West must be a pretty grim place. The city is governed by a mayor and city commission but has a professional city manager who runs the city from day to day.

Click here to read about the poorest city in each state.