California could be home to 50 million people in 2049, exactly two hundred years after the 1849 Gold Rush first ignited the state's growth, according to projections released Wednesday.
But first, the state's racial and ethnic dynamic will shift dramatically.
Beginning this summer, the Hispanic population will catch up to the white population and become the largest group in California by early next year.
Asian-Americans will be the largest group in Santa Clara County by 2020 and in Alameda County by 2030, according to the projections. Latinos will become the largest group in San Mateo County by 2040 and in Contra Costa County by 2050.
The population gain between 2010 and 2060 will exceed the current populations of Illinois or Pennsylvania, adding 15.7 million people statewide, including 1.8 million more residents of the Bay Area, according to state demographers. About 38 million people live in the state now.
The 50 million milestone will come later than the same demographers previously predicted before immigration and birth declines slowed the state's historically rapid growth. Until the recent recession, the state Department of Finance had predicted 2032 as the year the state would cross 50 million.
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