Are Americans holding off on having kids because of the bad economy? It sure looks that way. The National Center for Health Statistics
reports the U.S. birth rate fell by 2.7 percent last year to the lowest level in a century.
Taking into account the population, which grew, the birth rate in 2009 was 13.5 for every 1,000 people, the Associated Press
said. That marked a second straight year of fall-off and a drop from 14.3 in 2007, before the full force of the recession hit. More babies were born in 2007 than in any year in the nation's history.
"It's a good-sized decline for one year. Every month is showing a decline from the year before," Stephanie Venture, the demographer who oversaw the center's report, told the Associated Press. "It doesn't matter how you look at: fertility declined."
Word of the slowdown in births -- 4.13 million last year, compared to 4.25 million in 2008 -- came as the government revised growth in the economy downward for the second quarter. The Commerce Department
, after making adjustments, said the Gross Domestic Product grew only 1.6 percent during the three months ending in June, not the initial estimate of 2.4 percent.
Johns Hopkins Sociology Professor Andrew Cherlin told the AP, "when the economy is bad and people are uncomfortable with their financial future, they tend to postpone having children. We saw that in the Great Depression ... and we're seeing it in the Great Recession today." A slowdown in immigration to the U.S. could also be a factor, the news agency said.