For 23 years, participation in the Cost of Living Index was open to all places, regardless of size. In the late 1980s, however, several rural places with very small populations began participating, and it became apparent that adherence to the specifications in many such places wasn’t possible. There’s no doubt that small rural places offer an alternative to an urban professional or managerial standard of living that many people find attractive, but such places are qualitatively different from urban areas, and they simply don’t support the kind of urban lifestyle embodied in the Cost of Living Index.
The Committee has concluded that participation in the Index should be restricted to areas that can reasonably be considered urban and patterned its restrictions after the federal government’s distinction between urban and rural areas.
The Cost of Living Index Committee adopted the following restrictions, effective June 1991 (including modifications adopted and effective June 1999):
- Participation in the Cost of Living Index is open to all places within federally designated Metropolitan Areas in the United States.
- Participation by places outside MAs is restricted. A city in a nonmetropolitan county may participate if the county population exceeds 50,000 and if the population of the city to be priced exceeds 35,000.
Places that don’t meet the population criterion but were participants at the time the criterion was adopted may continue to participate. However, if any such place fails to participate in two consecutive quarters, it is not eligible for further participation.
If your community is small but you would like to benchmark your area's cost of living data to the Cost of Living Index, please contact Dean Frutiger at firstname.lastname@example.org.