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Mean center of U.S. population
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Mean center of U.S. population

The mean center of U.S. population is determined by the United States Census Bureau after tabulating the results of each census. The Bureau defines it to be:

the point at which an imaginary, flat, weightless, and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly if weights of identical value were placed on it so that each weight represented the location of one person on the date of the census.

During the 20th century, the mean center of population has shifted 324 miles west and 101 miles south. The southerly movement was much stronger during the second half of the century; 79 of the 101 miles happened between 1950 and 2000. It may not be a coincidence that it was after World War II that room air conditioning unit sales increased dramatically. According to the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute [1], 30,000 room air conditioners were sold in 1946, a number that increased to over 1,000,000 by 1953.

The following counties included the mean center of U.S. population during the 20th century:

The addition of Alaska and Hawaii to the union had the effect of moving the center about two miles farther south and about ten miles farther west for 1960.