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Center of Population

Center of Population image

Watch Dr. Robert Groves, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, explain how data based on the Census helps to determine the center of population and discusses the shift in the center over time.

Each decade, after it tabulates the decennial census, the Census Bureau calculates the center of population. The National Mean Center of Population based on the 2010 Census is near Plato, Mo., an incorporated village in Texas County.

The center is determined as the place where an imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly if all residents were of identical weight. In 2000, Edgar Springs, Mo., was announced as the new U.S. population center.

Historically, the center of population has followed a trail that reflects the sweep of the nation's brush stroke across America's population canvas. The sweep reflects the settling of the frontier, waves of immigration and the migration west and south. Since 1790, the location has moved in a westerly, then a more southerly pattern. In 2000, the new center of population was more than 1,000 miles from the first center in 1790, which was near Chestertown, Md.

Learn the mean center of population for each state.

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