The mean center of population 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.
|Year||Center of Population||Location|
|1790||Kent County, Maryland||23 miles east of Baltimore|
|1800||Howard County, Maryland||18 miles west of Baltimore|
|1810||Loudoun County, Virginia||40 miles northwest by west of Washington, D.C.|
|1820||Hardy County, West Virginia||16 miles east of Moorefield|
|1830||Grant County, West Virginia||19 miles west-southwest of Moorefield|
|1840||Upshur County, West Virginia||16 miles south of Clarksburg|
|1850||Wirt County, West Virginia||23 miles southeast of Parkersburg|
|1860||Pike County, Ohio||20 miles south by east of Chillcothe|
|1870||Highland County, Ohio||48 miles east by north of Cincinnati|
|1880||Boone County, Kentucky||8 miles west by south of Cincinnati|
|1890||Decatur County, Indiana||20 miles east of Columbus|
|1900||Bartholomew County, Indiana||6 miles southeast of Columbus|
|1910||Monroe County, Indiana||In the city of Bloomington|
|1920||Owen County, Indiana||8 miles south-southeast of Spencer|
|1930||Greene County, Indiana||3 miles northeast of Linton|
|1940||Sullivan County, Indiana||2 miles southeast by east of Carlisle|
|1950||Clay County, Illinois||3 miles northeast of Louisville|
|1960||Clinton County, Illinois||6.5 miles northwest of Centralia|
|1970||St. Clair County, Illinois||5 miles east-southeast of Mascoutah|
|1980||Jefferson County, Missouri||1/4 mile west of DeSoto|
|1990||Crawford County, Missouri||9.7 miles southeast of Steelville|
|2000||Phelps County, Missouri||2.8 miles east of Edgar Springs|
|2010||Texas County, Missouri||2.9 miles from Plato|
|2020||Wright County, Missouri||14.6 miles northeast of Hartville|
1790: Each decade, after it tabulates the decennial census, the Census Bureau calculates the center of population. Historically, it has followed a trail that reflects the sweep of the nation's brush stroke across America's population canvas—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.
1860: The center moved the greatest distance, leaping 80 miles westward. The U.S. had reached the Pacific by 1850, acquiring California, New Mexico, and other parts of the Intermountain West from Mexico; and Oregon Country in the Pacific Northwest. Texas had joined the Union and the 1850s saw substantial growth in the West.
1870: The most northerly movement of the center occurred in 1870, following the Civil War, largely the result of substantial population growth in the cities of the Northeast and Midwest. New York was nearing one million people; Chicago grew by 166 percent between 1860 and 1870. Of the 100 most populous cities in 1870, 80 were in the Northeast or Midwest and these cities increased their populations by approximately 1.6 million.
1920: The center moved the shortest distance—just under 10 miles. When the East experiences high rates of growth, as it did in the decades between 1890 and 1920, the westward movement of the center slows. The decade prior to 1920 saw large increases in immigrant populations in the cities of the Northeast and Midwest as well as the migration of African-Americans out of the South to many of those same cities.
2020: The center moved in the most southerly direction ever. The distance moved—11.8 miles—is the shortest distance since 1920 and second shortest distance moved ever. This southerly drift and shorter distance can be attributed to a strong pull on the center by continued population growth in the Southeast, especially Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, the Southwest, and Texas.