Small Missouri town becomes new center of U.S. population
March 24th, 2011
03:58 PM ET

Small Missouri town becomes new center of U.S. population

Plato, Missouri, population 109, is the new geographic center of the population of the United States.

Special coverage: Census in America

U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves congratulated the southeast Missouri town during a news conference Thursday.

"2010 is a special decade in our nation’s history," Groves said. "The center of the population has moved in a southerly direction in the most extreme way we've ever seen."

The Census Bureau calculates the center of population after each decennial census. It determines the center based on where an "imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly" if all 308,745,538 residents weighed the same amounts.

The center has been located in Missouri since the 1980 census. In 2000, the center was a few miles outside Edgar Springs, Missouri, a town of 190 people in the center of Phelps County.

The center has gradually drifted west and south as territories were added and as people moved. The center was first calculated after the 1790 census, when the center of population was in Kent County, Maryland, some 23 miles east of Baltimore. By 1900, it was Bartholomew County, Indiana, about six miles southeast of Columbus, Indiana.

Groves attributed the southerly drift - 23.4 miles from 2000 center - to population growth in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas.

Plato, located in Texas County, doesn't reflect the demographic breakdown of the rest of the United States, Groves said. Its residents are 95% non-Hispanic white, 2% are African-American and 4.6% are Hispanic (reflecting some overlap in reporting on census forms).

U.S. Hispanic population expected to exceed 50 million

Groves said the Census Bureau will present Plato with a marker to display this once-a-decade honor.

Have you been to Plato? Send us your photos, videos and memories from the new geographic center of the population for iReport.

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Filed under: Census • Missouri
soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. Defund Census Bureau

    What an absolutely stupid piece of info..."imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly" C'MON!!!

    March 25, 2011 at 12:17 am | Report abuse |
  2. Libertad

    You are all afraid that just like baseball we are going to take america over and make it better it is not our fault that your woman prefer latin man over your own race and we all know what race we are talking about treat your woman better and they might like you more and not look outside the box. And for the record Hispanics were here before anyone the south west changed flags 5 times since my family has lived here . "WE DIDN'T CROSS NO BORDERS THE BORDER CROSS US"

    March 25, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Whiplash

      Before anyone? Are you saying "hispanics" were here before the Cherokee? Go sit on your own head and fart.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. DrivingIntoMissDaisy

    hispanics didn't take over baseball, dope did.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
  4. Rufus T. Firefly

    Wait a minute....

    Missouri is PART OF THE UNITED STATES???

    Didn't we make some kind of "compromise" or something back in the 1800s and give it to Canada?

    March 25, 2011 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
  5. Captain_Colossal

    haha coooool

    March 25, 2011 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. Chico Escuela

    You're both wrong. Dopes of all ethnicities have taken over baseball. HAS been betty betty good to me. 🙂

    March 25, 2011 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
  7. Seward T. Folly

    Speaking of, you know, Alaska and dopes and stuff...

    Can we get more stories about Sarah Palin?

    March 25, 2011 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
  8. Canadian

    Even us Canadians don't want your Missouri, however, we may give ya Newfoundland for Hawaii...?

    March 25, 2011 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
    • CornerBrooker

      Too funny! Really. As a Newfoundlander, now living in Atlanta, Ga.............. "Let me come home". "Please".

      March 25, 2011 at 2:49 am | Report abuse |
  9. Rino

    so, what the f!@# does it mean? and who f!@$#ing cares? "The geographical center..." What an idiotic concept. Don't they have anything better to do? 109 people... in god forbidden Missouri... 95% non hispanic whites... Please! tell me this is a bad dream! For what I care, my a** is the center of the known universe. So what? The thing I resent the most is the name of a classic philosopher, Plato. I am sure that less than 000000.1% of the town know anything about him. And whomever does, he or she is probably considered a freak and one day will be driven out of town dragged with a rope attached to a beaten up truck. Oh. Am I being prejudiced? Yes, and I have a lot of good reasons.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:23 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff

    is it just me or does that map show that it's move pretty much due west, not "southerly"....

    March 25, 2011 at 1:26 am | Report abuse |
    • bob

      Re-read the story. The center moved southerly in the LAST DECADE. The graphic is for the last 200 years–clearly not ever year is represented in the graphic Typical of U.S. reading comprehension these days. No wonder the U.S. public is so clueless these days.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:32 am | Report abuse |
  11. Bpieper

    This is very important information, because if you ever need to balance the U.S. on your finger, you'll know exactly where to put your finger.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
  12. Bryan

    "...some 23 miles east of Baltimore."

    So it was in the Atlantic Ocean? Yeah, yeah, they meant west, but c'mon!

    March 25, 2011 at 1:32 am | Report abuse |
    • maryland

      Kent County is east of Baltimore. The writers were correct.

      March 25, 2011 at 6:43 am | Report abuse |
  13. Juan Valdez


    Try switchin' to de-caf.

    I'm just sayin'

    March 25, 2011 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
  14. red state wins

    yup, all them democrats moving into republican states which govern the states better. The democratic govenors and legislature have exploited, taxed and eliminated the jobs of those people so they are moving. This is great for 2012 since it shifts the electoral votes against that dude from our fraud-in-chief

    March 25, 2011 at 1:42 am | Report abuse |
  15. I'm The Compromiser


    Trade Newfoundland for Hawaii? Um, I don't THINK so!

    Nice try. No cigar.

    And no, you can't have Martin Short or Jim Carrey or Wayne Gretzky back.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Angela

      Are you sure? I ask, because I'd give Jim Carey back. 🙂

      March 25, 2011 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
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