HARTVILLE, Mo. – The U.S. Census Bureau has named Hartville, Missouri, a small town of 594 people in Southern Missouri, the population center of the United States based on the 2020 Census.
The center of the U.S. population was previously located in the tiny town of Plato, Missouri in Texas County based, but the 2020 Census shifted the population center slightly southwest into Wright County, about 15 miles outside of Hartville. The quaint town is the closest municipality near the actual population center and gets to claim the title until the 2030 Census.
The actual coordinates of the population center are 37.415725 North and 92.346525 West. The area’s turn for being the center of population is the most western and southern average center of population in our nation’s history.
The Census uses a method that calculates the ‘balancing point’ if all 50 states were located on an imaginary flat surface held down by the exact same mass in human weight if everyone were the identical weight. This balancing point would represent the average location of where people might live in the United States.
In addition to the calculation of the national center of population, the Census calculates the center of population for each state, county, census tract and census block group. Coordinates of each location can be found on the Census population website.
The 2020 center of population ended up being 11.8 miles from 2010’s calculations, one of the smallest movements ever recorded, and is almost 900 miles from the country’s 1790 population center in Kent County, Maryland. The largest distance was between 1850 and 1890 when issues like land speculation and the Gold Rush became prevalent in Oklahoma and California.
The center is typically marked with a survey monument placed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Geodetic Survey (NGS), which is the U.S. government’s direct source for precise latitude, longitude and elevation measurements.
As the nation has expanded over time, the population’s center has moved westward, but has recently taken a southwestern shift reflecting migration and interior movement of people from the Northeast to the Sun Belt, according to the Census website.
The Census says that the movement of the center of population helps with their timeline of migration to the south and west.
Hartville is planning an event spring of 2022 to recognize the area as the center of the population of the United States. Details will be released in the coming months, and spectators will be able to witness the placement of a commemorative survey monument.