Sun, Aug 09, 2009 - Page 7 News List

US baby boom could be ending amid recession

TAPERING OFF: Statistics show a 2 percent decline in the number of births last year from 2007, with the biggest slowdowns in Florida and California

AP , ATLANTA, GEORGIA

The US’ baby boomlet is showing signs of tapering off.

US births last year dropped nearly 2 percent from 2007 — the first annual decline in births since the beginning of the decade, new federal data showed.

It’s not clear what caused the decline, but the US economic downturn may have had something to do with it.

LOST JOBS

Since the recession began in December 2007, the economy has lost almost 7 million jobs. Housing foreclosures worsened in 2007 too, and fell into a state of crisis last year.

The largest decline in births last year were in California and Florida, the two states hit hardest by the housing crisis.

But the downturn’s effect on the public psychology — and families’ willingness to have babies — may not have really hit until the fall of last year, said Stephanie Ventura of the National Center for Health Statistics, the agency that put out the report.

The nation had about 4,247,000 births last year, down about 68,000 from the year before.

Of course, 2007 was a year in which more babies were born in the US than any other year in the country’s history.

FLUCTUATION

In the past, a fluctuation of births by 1 percent or 2 percent would not be seen as very significant, especially from such an unusual year. But the drop seems to break an unusual trend.

Births had been rising since 2002, and birth rates had been increasing in women of different age groups, said Ventura, chief of the agency’s reproductive statistics branch.

The new report is an early count of births from each state, and does not contain demographic breakdowns that might more completely explain whether birth declines occurred in some groups, but not others.

A month-by-month breakdown indicates births were up in January, February and April of last year compared with 2007, but were down every month after that except September.

The largest declines were in October and November.

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