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US by 2000: Los Angeles may be No. 1 city, Hispanics No. 1 minority

An advance look at the United States in the year 2000? Los Angeles by then may have replaced New York as the nation's most populous city. The Sunbelt and Far Western states will have continued to grow at a rapid pace, while major metropolitan areas of the Northeast may well have lost population.

Of the 1 million-plus new residents expected for the US each year between now and then, about half will be immigrants -- legal as well as illegal. By 1990, Hispanics will have become the nation's No. 1 minority.

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These are a few of the findings of an new, unpublished study conducted by five scholars for a major Midwestern corporation.

To some extent, the team (which included a marketing expert, an economist, a sociologist, a demographer, and an urban planner) confirmed the probable continuation of present trends:

* By the year 2000, half of the nation's households may be headed by single people.

* Many more wives in traditional families -- about 60 percent -- will be working.

* The number of Americans in their middle years (35 to 54) and those past 75 will increase by 50 percent.

Dr. William Lazer of Michigan State University, a marketing expert who directed the team research effort, says there will be an increase in "superaffluent" families. About 10 percent of the population, including a number of skilled blue-collar workers, will have incomes of $50,000 or more (in 1977 dollars), while half of all families will earn $25,000 or more. But Dr. Lazer also predicts that lower-middle-income groups (earning $15,000 to $20,000 a year) may find themselves more financially hard-pressed.

The geographical shift in population and the declining tax base of some of the larger cities in the North will be accompanied by increased pressure for more fiscal rescue help from Washington, suggests another member of the study team, Dr. Lowden Wingo of the University of Southern California School of Urban and Regional Planning.

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