According to this morning's WSJ ("New Outposts ... Granbury, Texas, Isn't a Rural Town: It's a 'Micropolis' ... Census Bureau Adopts Term For Main Street America, And Marketers Take Note ... Beans, Ribs and Starbucks"), census data are now compiled by geographic units that reflect the Great Dispersal.
The days of "downtown vs the suburbs" are long gone. Aside from a few assorted boutique downtown districts, ever more investors and households are now choosing between suburban, exurban and rural settings.
The new spatial definitions ought to make it possible for social scientists to catch up.