U.S. births hit another record low

The U.S. fertility rate has dropped to another record low in 2012. According to the latest figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the U.S. birth rate in 2012 stood at 63.0 births per 1,000 women between ages 15 to 44, down from 63.2 in 2011.

However, despite a drop from previous low, the experts believe that U.S. births may finally be leveling off.

The U.S. birth rate is dropping every year since 2007, a trend that has been linked to the onset of the Great Recession. Although the U.S. economy was officially in recession from December 2007 until June 2009, the birth rate trends failed to spur even later.

Falling birth rates are deemed to be challenge to future economic growth and the labor pool, experts note. “If there are fewer younger people in the United States, there may be a shortage of young workers to enter the labor force in 18 to 20 years,” said University of New Hampshire demographer Kenneth Johnson. “A downturn in the birth rate affects the whole economy.” Explaining it further, Johnson said, “It takes 2.1 children per woman for a given generation to replace itself, and U.S. births have been below replacement level since 2007.”

But with a drop of only 0.2 percent in the U.S. birth rate, the CDC says the difference isn’t statistically significant.

“We may be on level course or potentially even see a rise in birth trends in the near future,” said Brady Hamilton, a statistician with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But a more pessimistic expert, Carol Hogue, an Emory University expert on birth trends averred, “The decline has slowed down, but it’s still a decline.”

Highlights of the report
• The birth rate for all women was 63 births per 1,000 women, down 0.2 percent from the year before.

• Although Hispanic women and blacks posted a decline of 2 percent and 1 percent, respectively, the drop was less than the previous year. Birth rate remained steady for whites, rose 4 percent for Asian-American and Pacific Islanders, and dropped insignificantly for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

• Birth rates for women in early 20s dropped 3 percent from 2011, a record low for women in the age group since 1940.

• Birth rate for women in late 20s fell 1 percent. The group accounts for more than a quarter of the nation’s births.

• Birth rate rose 1 percent for women in early 30s. The group accounts for having as many babies as women in their late 20s.

• Birth rate rose 2 percent for women ages 35 and older, and 1 percent for women in early 40s.

• The birth rate trends are slowing shifting to older women. Experts believe that as older women have better jobs and are financially more secure, they are more sensitive to birth rate trends.

• Teen birth rates are falling since 1991 and recorded another historic low. The number of babies born to teens last year was about 305,000, less than half of nearly 645,000 births in 1970.

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