Calif. population expected to top 50 million by 2028 But numbers will fall in city of San Francisco

December 20, 1998|By SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The low birth rate in San Francisco will make it the only jurisdiction in rapidly growing California where the population will actually decline in the years ahead, a state report says.

The average age in San Francisco is 35 -- four years older than the state average -- but people aren't breeding as rapidly as in other counties. As the state's population expands -- reaching 50 million by 2028, up from about 32 million today -- the city is expected to lose 46,000 residents. And by then the city's average age will be 49.

Statewide, according to the report, the number of Hispanics and Asians will surge, while the black population will decline slightly and whites will no longer be in the majority.

The ethnic shift in California is certain to be the biggest challenge for state government into the next millennium.

Hedy Chang, associate director of the nonprofit group California Tomorrow, said the classroom is a good place to start. While 75 percent of California's teachers are white, the ethnic makeup of kindergarten through 12th grade is much more diverse, reflecting the future of the state.

Used by state officials in planning for services such as transportation and welfare benefits, the Department of Finance report is a mathematical and demographic crystal ball looking at the state's future. Among its predictions:

Between 1990 and 2040, the white proportion of the state's population will drop from 57.2 percent to 30.7 percent.

The Hispanic segment will increase from 26 percent to 47.8 percent in the next 50 years.

Asians and Pacific Islanders will jump from 9.2 percent statewide to 15.5 percent. The group will see a huge increase in San Francisco, from 29 percent to 40 percent of the population, to become the dominant ethnic group.

The black population will fall from 7 percent to 5.5 percent statewide.

The predicted decline in San Francisco's population was one quirk in the state report. Using a 1990 population figure of 727,873 people, the Department of Finance factored in more recent demographic statistics, including fertility and migration rates, to predict that the 2040 population in the city would decrease to 681,924.

"The birth rates are relatively low," said Mary Heim, a demographer with the Department of Finance. She said many of the people in San Francisco who are of childbearing age are "single and are not having children."

Pub Date: 12/20/98

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