This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Plato, Missouri is the New Population Center of the US

Now that the Census Bureau has released all of the redistricting data from the 2010 Census, we know that the population center of the country has continued its movement to the west and south, now centered on the tiny town of Plato, Missouri. It has been moving measurably west ever since the second census in 1800 and its shift to west by southwest has been in play since the beginning of the twentieth century. The center has been in Missouri since 1980 and, at its current pace, will probably still be in Missouri after the 2020 census.

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.

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