U.S. Birthrates Hit Record Lows

The birthrate in the United States has just hit its lowest level in 32 years, according to a new federal report. A provisional birthrate report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics shows that the U.S. birthrate fell to 3,788,235 births in 2018, 2 percent lower than the previous year. 2018 was the fourth consecutive year of birth declines and the lowest birthrate since 1986.

According to the report, U.S. birthrates fell for nearly all racial and age groups last year. Year-over-year, the number of births fell 2 percent for non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black women and 1 percent for Hispanic women. Women who identified as non-Hispanic Asian and non-Hispanic AIAN (American Indian & Alaska Native) saw a rate decline of 3 percent.

Teenagers saw a sharp drop in birthrates, falling 7 percent year-over year for teens between the ages of 15 and 19. The only gains were for women in their late 30s and early 40s, and those gains were slight. Women in their early 30s currently have a higher birthrate than women in their 20s.

The report also showed that the U.S. fertility rate has sunk to a record low. The total fertility rate is now 1,728 births per 1,000 women over their lifetimes, a 2 percent drop from the previous year. The replacement rate (number of births needed to maintain the current population) for the U.S. is 2,100 births per 1,000 women.

Experts are pointing to a number of factors to explain the continuing decline in births in the U.S. Some say a gloomy outlook for America’s future is creating negative sentiment among people of childbearing age. While the national economy has done well, growth in workers’ paychecks hasn’t been keeping pace. Lack of job security may be another factor.

The cost of raising a child in today’s American society is also having an effect. Child care and health insurance are expensive, are the cost of housing in sky-high in some large U.S. cities. According to a report from the OECD, only 6 of 10 millennials, who are in their 20s and 30s, earn enough to be considered middle class, compared with 7 of 10 baby boomers at the same age.