US Population on Track for 'Historic' Swerve

Nation's population center is poised to move south, instead of westward
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 29, 2023 10:10 AM CST
US Population on Track for 'Historic' Swerve
Americans are moving south.   (Getty / FluxFactory)

The US population center is on track this decade to take a southern swerve for the first time in history. Last year, the South outgrew other US regions by well over 1 million people through births outpacing deaths and domestic and international migration, according to population estimates from the US Census Bureau. The Northeast and Midwest lost residents, and the West grew by an anemic 153,000 people, primarily because a large number of residents left for a different US region, per the AP. The West would have lost population if not for immigrants and births outpacing deaths.

In contrast, the South grew by 1.3 million new residents, and six of the 10 US states with the biggest growth last year were in the South, led in order by Texas, Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia. Experts aren't sure at this point if the dramatic pull of the South is a short-term change spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic or a long-term trend, or even what impact it will have on the reallocation of political power through redistricting after the 2030 census. Because of delays caused by the pandemic, changes were made in how the Census Bureau has calculated the estimates this decade, and that, too, may have had an impact.

But experts say the Southern allure has to do with a mix of housing affordability, lower taxes, the popularity of remote work during the pandemic era, and baby boomers retiring. If the trend continues through the rest of this decade, by 2030 the mean center of the US population will head due south from a rural county in the Missouri Ozarks, without a westward extension for the first time in history, according to urban planner Alex Zakrewsky, who models the population center. Since the population center was first calculated to be in Chestertown, Maryland, in 1790, it has moved continuously westward. “If this really pans out, it is really historical,” says Zakrewsky.

(More US Census stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.