By Keith Alexander for CNN • Updated 2nd June 2015
By Keith Alexander
The U.S. population center was moved a few miles east, but still remains in Missouri.
The Census Bureau announced the well-timed reconfiguration on Tuesday. In October 2020, the center of the U.S. population will shift to 31.5 miles east of St. Louis, then shift again to Mississippi.
Counting an 11.8-mile difference — slightly more than 8 miles per side — it was the quickest case of repositioning ever.
“The Census Bureau has successfully adjusted the 2010 and 2020 U.S. population centers a total of 15 times,” the bureau said in a statement.
To understand the significance of this case of redistricting, it helps to know that the U.S. population has grown from 303.9 million in 2010 to 315.2 million in 2011, according to a 2012 report by the Pew Research Center.
You don’t need to rely on numbers or percentages to know something changed.
“The official shifting point is an important marker in our nation’s cultural, economic and social history,” said Monica Miller, assistant director for Census at the Census Bureau. “It is here where we symbolically hold the line in place and reaffirm the nation’s strong collective sense of togetherness.”
The new place of calling home — 306,262,550 — still includes Missouri and its adjacent states, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
“We are grateful to Missouri and all the states that made the hard decisions to preserve their historic places at the national center,” said Census Bureau’s executive director, John Thompson.
The new location is expected to be easier to track in the 2020 census, which will be in four waves instead of two.
While no official year can be determined from “expanding” or “shrinking” the U.S. population center, the average distance between major U.S. census centers has shrunk over the past decade.
Moody’s Analytics found in 2012 that the distance from 14 of America’s population centers is less than 7 miles — averaging 4.2 miles per year.