The Census Bureau issued population figures and racial breakdowns for Vermont yesterday, setting off a two-month process in which each state will receive the information it needs to redraw its political boundaries.

The figures showed that, while the population of Vermont grew 10 percent over the 1980s, it remained a predominantly white state of small towns and rural communities. Overall, the state grew at just about the national rate, increasing in population from 511,456 in 1980 to 562,758 in 1990.

By law, the Census Bureau must turn over the redistricting information, which categorizes population and racial change by small geographic areas, to all the states by April 1.

For the first time in the 200-year history of the census, the population information is accompanied by a warning that the numbers "are subject to possible correction for undercount or overcount."

That is a result of a lawsuit filed by several communities, including New York City, contending that many of their residents had been overlooked in previous censuses.

In a legal settlement, the Commerce Department agreed to consider such a correction, known as "adjustment," in which new population counts are generated by statistical formula. A decision on whether to adjust the numbers must be announced by July 15.

Vermont is among a group of 10 states scheduled to receive population data at the beginning of the process because of early redistricting deadlines.

Census officials said the next two states scheduled for release, probably sometime over the next two weeks, are Virginia and New Jersey.

The 1990 census showed that, while Vermont's racial minorities grew rapidly, they remained a small portion of its population. The group categorized as Asian or Pacific Islander more than doubled, from 1,355 to 3,215, an increase of more than 137 percent.

"My guess was this was mostly Southeast Asians, primarily Vietnamese, who located here in the 1980s," said Bernard Johnson, an official with the state's Office of Policy Research and Coordination. He said much of that immigration took place in the first half of the decade under church-sponsored refugee programs.

Most of Vermont's residential growth was in the suburbs surrounding Burlington, with nearly 20 percent growth in South Burlington and 19 percent growth in Essex Junction.

In the coming months, the Census Bureau will be releasing demographic information about individual states, including the first figures showing how racial composition has changed since 1980. The Washington Post will run this information periodically, as it becomes available.

TOTAL POPULATION:

..............................1980..........1990.....% Change

All residents:................511,,546......562,758......+10%

POPULATION BY RACE:

White.......................506,736........555,088..... +9.5%

Black........................ 1,135......... 1,951.... +71.9%

American Indian*.............. 984.......... 1,696.... +72.4%

Asian/Pacific Islander.......1,355...........3,215....+137.3%

Other Race...................1,246............ 808.... -35.2%

Hispanic origin..............3,304...........3,661.... +10.8%

Also includes Eskimos or Aleuts.

NOTE: Racial figures do not total to 100% because people of Hispanic origin can be of any race.