Blog Post

Insight: Shifting Balance Points – Mean Center of Population Release

By: Eric Albers and Mallory Bateman

Mean Center of Population

On Tuesday, the Census Bureau released the new mean center of population for the United States based on the 2020 Census. This measure represents the middle point of the country from a population-weighted perspective or the point at which an imaginary, weightless, rigid, and flat surface would balance if each person weighed the same. The mean center of population is different than the geographic center of the nation.

Since the first decennial census in 1790, the mean center of population has shifted west and south. In 2020, the mean center of population shifted from near Plato, Missouri, to Hartville, Missouri. This is the most southerly shift and is one of the shortest distance shifts of this decadal measure since 1790. Considering the low nationwide population increase of 7.4% between 2010 and 2020 and the intense growth in the intermountain west and Texas, these two adjustments make sense.

What is this picture like in Utah?

Like the nationwide trend, the mean center of population in Utah has shifted in a southwesterly direction in recent decades. In 2010, this point was just west of Redwood Road in Saratoga Springs. Initial Gardner Institute analysis kept the 2020 mean center of the state in Saratoga Springs, about 1.5 miles southwest and nearly on