The U.S. total fertility rate (TFR) has steadily declined over the last few decades, and on Thursday, the CDC announced it had hit a 30-year low in 2017. In fact, at the current birth rate, America will not be able to replace its current workforce.
In a new report on fertility rates, the CDC found that the United States was 16% below what is considered the level for a population to replace itself. If a country needs 2,100 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age over their lifetime, America was hitting at just 1,765.5.
Overall, only two states witnessed rates above replacement level: South Dakota and Utah. The District of Columbia held the lowest rate, with 1,421 births per 1,000 women.
Esri, a spatial analytics company, sourced the CDC’s data and put it into these interactive maps, which are also embedded below.
The CDC analyzed the total fertility rates along numerous demographics, including location and race. It found that among white women, no states had a TFR above the replacement level; 12 states had TFRs for black women above replacement; and among Hispanic women, 29 states had TFRs above 2,100.
As The Hill notes, the U.S. TFR hovered above 3,000 in the early 20th century and reached a peak of 3.7 in the post-World War II baby boom.
The ongoing trend has baffled some analysts. As the American economy recovered, many assumed the birth rate would, too. But a new report at the Center for Retirement Research believes a birth rate recovery will likely not occur.
Experts attribute the declining birth rate to a medley of economic issues and social influences. These include the increased cost of childcare, lack of workplace initiatives for new moms, a drop in teen births, and women waiting longer to marry and have children. For the first time, the majority of new moms in the U.S. are over 30. The CDC’s National Survey of Family Growth found that over 7 million women (that’s 12% of American women of reproductive age) now seek fertility treatment services.
That means an influx of startups dedicated to a host of issues surrounding the complexity that involves starting a family: ovulation tracking, ovarian reserve testing, programs to make the process more accessible, and more. As such, the global fertility services market is expected to grow to $21 billion by 2020, with an annual growth rate of almost 9%, according to a Technavio research report.
While environmentalists might potentially applaud a smaller population, this trend proves worrisome down the line, when a replacement workforce is in need to carry the U.S. economy, as well as shoulder the cost of an aging population and social programs like Social Security.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 National Population Projections estimate that by 2020 there will be about three-and-a-half working-age adults for every retirement-age person. By 2060, that number will drop to just two-and-a-half working-age adults for every retiree.
The U.S. is now officially an “aging society,” which is defined by a population over 65 exceeding the population under 15. By 2030, all baby boomers will be older than age 65, meaning that 1 in every 5 adults residents will be retirement age.
“The aging of baby boomers means that within just a couple of decades, older people are projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history,” explained Jonathan Vespa, a demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau.