Based on current U.S. growth, which is occurring mostly in the South and West, the population center is expected to cross into Arkansas or Oklahoma by the middle of this century.
The last time the U.S. center fell outside the Midwest was 1850, in the eastern territory now known as West Virginia. Its later move to the Midwest bolstered the region as the nation's heartland in the 20th century, central to farming and manufacturing.
Actually, that's not quite an accurate statement. If the population had been growing rapidly along the Pacific Coast, but not at all in the midwest, the population center would still have been in the middle of the country.
But Plato, about 170 miles southwest of St. Louis, doesn't reflect the population changes that have brought it special attention. The town and its surroundings have few blacks and even fewer Hispanics, though there are more minorities in three or four larger cities about 20 to 30 miles away.