WASHINGTON — Rapidly growing Texas and Florida will become the nation's second and third most populous states by the turn of the century, the Census Bureau said Thursday.
Americans flocking to the Sun Belt will help California retain its firm grip on the No. 1 population ranking, according to a new analysis of state and city data and projections of the population for the year 2000.
But the Lone Star and Sunshine states will surpass the current second-ranked state, New York, the figures show.
Wyoming to Gain
At the other end of the scale, the report predicts that Wyoming will nearly double its current half-million population, jumping from last place to No. 43. Vermont will drop to 50th in the year 2000, the Census Bureau projects.
The state population projections are contained in the 1986 edition of the State and Metropolitan Area Data Book, a more than 700-page compilation of statistics about the states and hundreds of metropolitan areas and their central cities.
The data book--a supplement to the Statistical Abstract, the annual volume that contains national statistics on various topics--is the first update of the state and metropolitan figures since 1982.
The population projections for the year 2000 lead off a special section of state rankings.
California to Top 30 Million
It projects that California will increase from its current 26.4 million people to 30.6 million by the turn of the century.
In climbing from third to second place, Texas is expected to grow from 16.4 million to 20.7 million. And Florida is likely to increase from 11.4 million to 17.4 million, to skip from No. 6 to No. 3.
New York is expected to drop to fourth place from second place with a population of nearly 15 million in the year 2000. That would be a decline from the Empire State's current 17.7 million--an expectation not shared by everyone.
The private National Planning Assn., for example, published projections last April estimating that New York would gain about 913,000 people by the year 2000, giving it a total of more than 18 million.
Would Lead Florida
Should that prove to be the case, New York would drop to No. 3 behind Texas but would lead Florida.
The National Planning Assn.'s report forecast significant gains in some older industrial states like New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, places where the Census Bureau report predicts declines in the population.
The Census projections are based on trends developed in the 1970s, but the National Planning Assn. expects changes in some of those trends based on developments in the economy.
Other findings reported in the new data book include:
--Alaska was the fastest growing state between 1980 and 1985, increasing by 29.7%. Michigan ranked last, losing 1.9% of its people.
--New Jersey is the most densely populated state, with 1,013 people per square mile. Alaska averages only one person per square mile.
--Alaska has the top birth rate, 24.9 per 1,000 residents; Connecticut is 50th, at 13.1.
--Alaska has the highest rate of women in the work force, 64.5%. The lowest is 39.1% in West Virginia.