WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s official: The new center of the U.S. population is in Missouri, about 2.7 miles northeast of the village of Plato.

The Census Bureau said Thursday that steady migration to the Sun Belt had pushed the site roughly 30 miles southwest of the previous location near Edgar Springs, Mo.

It is the fourth Missouri town to hold the distinction.

Plato, located in Texas County, had a 2010 population of 109 people.

Since 1860, the mean population center has resided in the Midwest, helping make the region a symbol of the nation’s heartland.

Based on current migration trends, the center is expected to continue moving westward, crossing into Oklahoma or Arkansas by mid century.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press

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