NEW YORK, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- The U.S. Census Bureau said Florida is likely to surpass New York in population in 2014, if it hasn't already.
Demographers expect Florida to replace New York as the third most populous state, separated by as little as a few thousand people.
The Census Bureau is expected to release its population estimates Monday, the New York Times reported Friday. California and Texas are expected to hold firm as the No. 1 and No. 2 most populous states, respectively.
The census figures indicate foreign-born migrants are moving to warm-weather states, like California, Texas and Florida, and New York is losing roughly 50,000 people each year to Florida, most of them retirees.
"It's going to happen," said Andrew A. Beveridge, a professor of sociology at Queens College. "And if Florida accidentally grew faster and New York slowed down, it could have happened already."
Despite moving into fourth place, New York is not losing population. The state is growing about 1 percent annually in recent years, the Times said. Florida, though, is growing at a rate of about 2.7 percent annually.
The last census estimate in July 2012 indicated New York had a population of 19.6 million and Florida had 19.3 million.