WASHINGTON (AP) _ The United States is ringing in 1987 with 2.2 million more people than a year ago, the Census Bureau estimates.

In its newest population figures, the bureau estimated the U.S. population on New Year's Day at 242,085,811, up 15.5 million or 6.9 percent from the last Census conducted in 1980.

The current population figure is based on an estimated 3.7 million births in 1986, 2.1 million deaths and a net migration of 554,000 during the year.

Government statisticians estimated that the country will grow by another 2.2 million in 1987 with birth and death levels projected to be slightly higher.

The birth total in the new year should be the highest since the 1960s. The record for net population growth in a single year was 3.1 million, recorded in 1956.

The population increased 0.9 percent in both 1985 and 1986 and 1 percent in each year from 1981 to 1984. In contrast, the annual rate of increase during the peak years of the baby boom from 1947 to 1961 ranged from 1.6 percent to 1.9 percent.