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U.S. to get older; more Asian, Hispanic

In 2050, 1 in 20 Americans will be older than 85, 1 in 5 will be retired and the face of the nation will be far more Asian and Hispanic.

In its report _ "The State of the Nation: 1997" _ the U.S. Census Bureau predicted a slow-growing population that will increase to 394-million by the middle of the next century.

Why the slow growth?

"The non-Hispanic white population is growing very slowly because it's dominated by the baby boomers, and those people aren't growing larger (as a group); they're just growing older," the bureau's Kevin Deardorff said Wednesday.

The oldest Americans, those over 85, will be the fastest-growing group in the next 55 years. The number of them will double from 4-million to 8-million by the year 2030, and more than double to 18-million by 2050. Retirees _ if retirement age continues to hover around 65 _ will account for 20 percent of all Americans, or 79-million people, by 2050.

Hispanics currently represent about 11 percent of the total U.S. population, but last year accounted for 40 percent of the population increase. Asians represent about 3.5 percent of the population, but accounted for some 14 percent of the increase.

Currently there are some 265-million Americans.

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