US population center moves 11.8 miles; still in Missouri

National News
Census-Heart of America

The Census has calculated the mean center of the population of the United States every decade since 1790

HARTVILLE, Mo. (AP) — Some people might describe Hartville, Missouri, as being in the middle of nowhere, but the U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday announced that it’s the closest town to the middle of the nation.

The hamlet of about 600 people in the Missouri Ozarks is located about 15 miles (24 kilometers) from the center of the U.S. population distribution, according to the Census Bureau.

The nation’s population center is calculated every 10 years after the once-a-decade census shows where people are living. The heart of America has been located in Missouri since 1980.

The U.S. population center, previously located in Plato, Missouri, in the neighboring county, moved only 11.8 miles (19 kilometers) from 2010 to 2020. It is the smallest distant shift in 100 years and the second-smallest in U.S. history.

To calculate the center of the U.S., the Census Bureau figures out which spot would be “the balance point” if the 50 states were located on an imaginary, flat surface with weights of identical size — each representing the location of one person — placed on it.

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Associated Press writer Mike Schneider in Orlando, Florida, contributed to this report.

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