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Although California's once-soaring population growth has slowed markedly, the state will surpass 50 million by 2050, and by then, Latinos should be nearing a majority, according to a new set of population projections by the state Department of Finance.

Meanwhile, the state's once dominant white population will continue to shrink, becoming smaller than the Latino contingent by early 2014, and the state will become markedly older as the huge Baby Boom generation moves into retirement years.

The 2010 census counted 37.3 million Californians, and population growth, once well more than 2 percent a year, has dropped to under 1 percent. The new projections see 40.6 million by 2020, 44.3 million by 2030, 47.7 million by 2040, 50.4 million by 2050 and 52.7 million by 2060.

By 2060, too, Latinos, now just under 40 percent of the state's population, should be close to 50 percent while whites, also just under 40 percent now, should be about 30 percent, the department's demographers calculate. Asians will remaini roughly the same proportion at 13 percent, and blacks will decline from 6 percent to 4 percent. Meanwhile, they believe, California's median age will increase sharply from 35.2 years now to 41.9 years in 2060 as births stagnate.

By 2060, the demographers see California as having 13 counties with populations of a million or more, but Los Angeles County, which has a quarter of the state's population now, will - like other coastal areas - grow much more slowly than the state as a whole. The state is expected to grow by 41.3 percent between 2010 and 2060, but Los Angeles by just 18 percent.

Riverside County is expected to be the state's fastest growing county during the next half-century, expanding from 2.2 million in 2010 to 4.2 million in 2060.


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