The United States birth rate fell 4% last year, the largest single-year decrease in nearly 50 years, according to a government report being released on Wednesday.
The report is part of ten year census data that demographers continue to follow closely.
The birth rate dropped for moms of every major race and ethnicity and in nearly every age group in the U.S., falling to the lowest point since federal health officials started tracking it more than a century ago.
Births have been declining in younger women for years as many postponed motherhood and had smaller families, according to the U.S. census data.
Birth rates for women in their late 30s and in their 40s have been inching up -- but not last year, The Associated Press said.
“The fact that you saw declines in births even for older moms is quite striking,” said Brady Hamilton, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the lead author of the new report.
The pandemic no doubt contributed to last year’s big decline, experts say.
Anxiety about COVID-19 and its impact on the economy likely caused many couples to think that having a baby right then was not a good idea.
However, many of the 2020 pregnancies began well before the U.S. epidemic.
CDC researchers are working on a follow-up report to better analyze how the decline unfolded.
About 3.6 million babies were born in the U.S. last year, down from about 3.75 million in 2019.
When births were booming in 2007, the U.S. recorded 4.3 million births.
The current generation is getting further away from having enough children to replace itself.
The low birth rate has economists concerned about how this can define the nation’s future -- raising questions like where all the tax dollars that fund social security and Medicare come from to support a larger aging population.