Census Bureau to announce new U.S. population center

America is about to find out where its heart is.

The US Census Bureau on Tuesday announced the location of the new US population center, an event that takes place every 10 years after the decennial census shows where people live. The center of America’s population distribution has been in Missouri since 1980, and there’s a good chance that won’t change.

Somewhere in Wright County, Missouri the Ozarks is the most likely candidate, according to calculations by city planner Alex Zakrewsky, who accurately predicted the current title holder a decade ago. The county seat is Hartville, Missouri.

Ever since the first U.S. census was taken in 1790 and Chestertown, Maryland was declared the center of the young nation, the heart of the country has been calculated after each census, moving southwest across the ‘Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri as more people have moved to Sun Belt. States and immigrant from the southern border.

If Zakrewsky’s theory turns out to be true, the center will only have moved 12.8 miles southwest of Plato, a small village in the Missouri Ozarks that was designated the Heart of the United States ten years ago. following the 2010 census.

Such a leisurely trip to neighboring county would reflect a slowdown in the movement of the center of the nation from 2010 to 2020 compared to other decades, said Zakrewsky, who is the senior planner for Middlesex County, New Jersey.

This may turn out to be the slowest progression or the second slowest, rivaling the 13-mile lag between 1910 and 1920 when European immigration to northeastern cities counterbalanced the westward expansion and South. By comparison, between 1850 and 1860, the great westward migration moved the center 103 miles from West Virginia to Ohio.

“An aging population, persistent economic hardship and the impact of the pandemic have all helped to reduce the means and reasons for Americans to relocate,” Zakrewsky said.

To calculate the center of the United States, the Census Bureau determines what location would be “the point of equilibrium” if the 50 states were an imaginary, planar surface with weights of the same size placed on them so that each weight represents the location. of somebody .

Plato, located south of Fort Leonard Wood in the Missouri Ozarks, had a population of 82 people last year, about a quarter less than a decade ago when the director of the Census Bureau’s time, Robert Groves, visited the village to celebrate its status.

But don’t expect to find T-shirts or coffee mugs celebrating this designation in local stores, or regrets as Plato loses that claim to fame. Most people in Texas County, home to Plato, have no idea they are in the middle of the United States, said Scott Long, the president commissioner of Texas County, where beef cattle are most plentiful. than people.

“I don’t think it has changed the daily lives of the people in this county, but I don’t mean it in a way that means we don’t care,” Long said. “It’s one of those things that most people don’t even know. “

This story was originally published November 15, 2021 3:09 pm.

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