The CDC found that the birth rate last year fell to 59 per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44, representing a 2% decrease from 2017. The total number of births in the US last year was 3.788 million, the lowest tally since 1986. The data also reveals that US birth rates have declined for four consecutive years since 2014.
Between 2017 and 2018, the birth rate decreased 7% among teens between the ages of 15 and 19, 4% among women aged 20 and 24, 3% among women 25 to 29 and 1% among women 30 to 34.
Birth rates decreased last year for all women under the age of 35, but increased for women in their late 30s and early 40s, according to the report. Furthermore, the preterm birth rate, which as defined as deliveries that take place earlier than 37 weeks into pregnancy, increased for the fourth year in a row to 10.02% last year.
"It's a national problem," Dowell Myers, a demographer at the University of Southern California, told NPR following the release of the CDC report. "The birthrate is a barometer of despair."
Myers did not immediately respond to Sputnik's request for comment.
The drop in US birth rate could reflect a cultural change, with younger Americans opting to have children later in life or not have any children at all. It could also reflect an increasingly precarious economic situation for many young people, despite some indices showing an American economy that is holding steady.
According to a report by MagnifyMoney published this year, based on 2016 data from the Federal Reserve, millennials with student debt reported 75% less worth "than their debt-free peers." In addition, a 2013 study by Stewart Friedman of Wharton University revealed that the number of young women planning to have children has decreased from 78% to 42% in just 20 years. Studies have also shown that for the first time in the past 130 years, young adults are more likely to live with their parents than with a romantic partner, with many millenials unable to afford homes.
According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey, payroll employment in the goods, construction and manufacturing industries, collectively referred to as nonfarm payroll employment, increased by 2.7 million in 2018, amounting to an average monthly increase of 223,000 jobs every month. In fact, the monthly job growth last year was greater than in both 2017 and 2016. However, a blog post by the Economic Policy Institute reveals that the inflation-adjusted wages of private sector workers did not increase last year, citing a decrease in worker leverage and bargaining power — not a lack of worker skills — as responsible for the sluggish growth.