Trade
Metropolitan Export Series Methodology

Metropolitan Export Series Methodology

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Metropolitan Export Series Data Methodology

All state and metro area export values released in the Metropolitan Export Series are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Origin of Movement–ZIP code Based Series (OM-ZIP). This series allocates exports to states and localities based on the address of the United States Principal Party in Interest (USPPI) of record.

The USPPI of record is not necessarily the entity that produced the merchandise; hence, the series does not furnish complete and reliable data on the production origin of U.S. exports, as explained below.

The USPPI of record, as determined from the electronic export information entered into the Automated Export System, is the person or legal entity in the United States that receives the primary benefit, monetary or otherwise, from the export transaction. 

The OM-ZIP series can track export sales of states, metropolitan areas, and ZIP codes (at the three-digit level). Statistics are available for exports of merchandise only. No sub-national data currently exist on exports of services. A state import series measures goods imports down to a state level. However, the zip code information needed to track the imports at a metropolitan area level is not collected at this time.

Data users should be aware that all sub-national export statistics in the state data series are based on initial data compiled from U.S. export declarations. Subsequent revisions by the Census Bureau (e.g., carryover and annual revisions) are not reflected in the numbers.

For more information on the State Export Data Series, go to the Census Bureau’s State Trade Data website. More detailed data are also available from the Bureau on a fee-for-service basis. Additional questions should be directed to the Census Bureau’s International Trade Division.

Limitations of Metropolitan Export Series Data

All MSA export data in these tables were tabulated by matching the five-digit ZIP codes entered on U.S. export declarations with the five-digit ZIP codes specified for each MSA using concordance files from the Census Bureau’s Geography Division and the U.S. Postal Service. The boundaries of official MSAs are county-based and defined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Starting with 2018, MSA definitions will be updated twice a decade: in years ending in ‘3,’ based on data from the decennial census; and then again in years ending in ‘8,’ based on updated data from the American Community Survey. Prior to 2018, MSA definitions were updated only in year ending in ‘3’.

Because the boundaries of official MSAs are county-based, data users can readily determine the coverage of export statistics for any given MSA by referring to published maps or other widely available references. It is not possible here to provide a comprehensive listing of counties for the many metropolitan areas covered by this publication. OMB makes available statistical guidelines and a comprehensive list of the current area definitions online and the Census Bureau publishes online files covering both the current and historical delineations.

Because of the relative precision of the five-digit ZIP code method used to compile these tables, the MSA export figures in the Metropolitan Export Series and associated reports can be compared and used in conjunction with any other MSA-based federal statistics (e.g., on population, income, educational level).

Regarding comparability with other U.S. trade data, the export figures in this publication can be used in conjunction with the OM-ZIP–based state-level data issued by the U.S. Census Bureau. Using these data together it is possible, for example, to show Cleveland’s share of Ohio’s export sales. However, OM-ZIP data should not be compared to sub-national statistics compiled on an OM-State basis, such as the state-level data in ITA’s Trade Stats Express.

In years prior to 2008, the Census Bureau was unable to allocate value to any local jurisdiction on a limited number of transactions. These totals are aggregated into the category called “unknown”.

Some exports originate outside of metropolitan areas. These transactions are summarized in the “non-metropolitan areas” category, which is displayed where appropriate.

Because of U.S. laws that preclude disclosure of confidential business data provided to the federal government, it is necessary for the U.S. Census Bureau to completely suppress totals for certain MSAs each year. These totals are shown as ‘NA’. The totals for these MSAs have been folded into a category labeled “other metropolitan areas”. These suppressions are as follows:

2020: Total for three (3) MSAs were suppressed:

  • Brownsville-Harlingen, TX
  • Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR
  • Texarkana, TX-AR

2019: Totals for six (6) MSAs were suppressed:

  • Farmington, NM
  • Las Cruces, NM
  • Texarkana, TX-AR
  • Tuscaloosa, AL
  • Waco, TX
  • Wheeling, WV-OH

2018: Totals for five (5) MSAs were suppressed:

  • Amarillo, TX
  • Jacksonville, NC
  • Texarkana, TX-AR
  • Tuscaloosa, AL
  • Wheeling, WV-OH

2017: Totals for three (3) MSAs were suppressed.

  • Brownsville-Harlingen, TX
  • Ocean City, NJ
  • Tuscaloosa, AL

2016: Totals for three (3) MSAs were suppressed.

  • Tuscaloosa, AL
  • Flagstaff, AZ
  • Yuma, AZ

2015: Totals for three (3) MSAs were suppressed.

  • Tuscaloosa, AL
  • Flagstaff, AZ
  • Yuma, AZ

2014: Totals for three (3) MSAs were suppressed.

  • Tuscaloosa, AL
  • Flagstaff, AZ
  • Yuma, AZ

2013: Export total for the Tuscaloosa, AL MSA was suppressed.

2012: Totals for four (4) MSAs were suppressed.

  • Jacksonville, NC
  • Pascagoula, MS
  • Salisbury, MD
  • Tuscaloosa, AL

2011: The totals for seven (7) MSAs were suppressed.

  • Anchorage, Alaska
  • Fairbanks, Alaska
  • Flagstaff, AZ
  • Jacksonville, NC
  • Lake Havasu City, AZ
  • Pascagoula, MS
  • Tuscaloosa, AL

2010: The totals for five (5) MSAs were suppressed.

  • Decatur, IL
  • Fairbanks, AK
  • Tuscaloosa, AL
  • Pascagoula, MS
  • Anchorage, AK

2009: The totals for four (4) MSAs were suppressed.

  • Lawton, OK
  • Decatur, IL
  • Fairbanks, AK
  • Tuscaloosa, AL

2008: The totals for four (4) MSAs were suppressed.

  • Decatur, IL
  • Fairbanks, AK
  • Mayaguez, PR
  • Tuscaloosa, AL

2007: The totals for four (4) MSAs were suppressed.

  • Decatur, IL
  • Fairbanks, AK
  • Mayaguez, PR
  • Tuscaloosa, AL

2006: The totals for two (2) MSAs were suppressed.

  • Decatur, IL
  • Tuscaloosa, AL

2005: No suppressed MSAs

 

For the 392 metro areas for which it is possible to release some export data, disclosure regulations still limit or prevent the release of much detail on foreign markets and the industry composition of exports. Manufactured product detail, even for the largest exporting MSAs, is limited to broad four-digit NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) categories. Information on market destinations, while generally more complete than data on product composition, is also subject to important disclosure-induced limitations. Disclosure-induced limitations, other than those for total exports, are shown as ‘D’.