September 29, 2023

Economix: The Population Shifts Westward

2:28 p.m. | Updated
The Census Bureau has put together a neat interactive map showing the shifting center of the population, defined as “the place where an imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly if all residents were of identical weight.”

Over the years the center of the population has shifted westward and then southward, reflecting political and economic forces that encouraged the population to migrate: the settling of the Western frontier; immigration patterns; and then the gravitation away from older, colder cities to the Southwest, where looser regulations made it easier to build more housing.

In 1790, the center of the population was in Kent County, Md. By last year, it had moved 872.9 miles away, to Plato, Mo.

Addendum: My colleague Timothy Williams had a fun interview with Plato’s mayor on his town’s newfound fame.

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