The U.S. birth rate declined 2 percent in 2018 to 3.79 million babies born, the fourth year in a row the data has shown a drop.
The general fertility rate — the number of births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 — fell to 59.0, the lowest since the start of federal record-keeping, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.
The number of babies born in the United States fell to a 32-year low, deepening the fertility slump that The Wall Street Journal says is reshaping America’s future workforce.
With the latest decline, births in the U.S. have fallen in 10 of the last 11 years since peaking in 2007, just before the recession. Some experts predicted the birth rate would rebound as the economy recovered, but that hasn’t been the case.
The decline has important implications for the U.S. economy and workforce, according to the newspaper.
The total fertility rate — an estimate of the number of babies a woman would have over her lifetime — has generally remained below the “replacement” level of 2.1 since 1971.
A fertility rate falling farther below replacement level means that, without enough immigrants, the U.S. could see population declines and a workforce too small to support a growing segment of retirees.
Last year, it fell to 1.7, a record low. That figure remains higher than the rate in parts of Asia and Europe. The total fertility rate in Japan is about 1.4; in Germany it is 1.6; and in Italy it is 1.3, according to estimates from the World Bank.
Younger and unmarried women have seen the largest fertility declines in recent years, while rates for those in their 30s or who are married have generally increased.
The drop has been particularly dramatic among teens ages 15-19, where the birthrate fell 7 percent last year to 17.4 births per thousand women. That figure is down 72 percent from a peak of 61.8 in 1991.
In 2018, only women ages 35 to 44 saw an increase in birthrates, while rates for all other age groups declined or remained the same.