CDC: Americans aren't having enough babies to replace themselves

FILE photo (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- Fertility rates are at their lowest, according to a new report, meaning Americans aren't producing enough babies for the population to replace itself.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the United States had its seventh year in a row of declining fertility rates in 2017.

They said there were only 1,765.5 births per 1,000 women.

The nation's total fertility rate was 16 percent below the level for a population to replace itself last year and only two states, South Dakota and Utah, had total fertility rates above replacement levels.

Washington D.C. had the lowest rate and the gap between it and South Dakota was 57 percent.

The 2017 statistics are down from:

  • 1,820.5 in 2016
  • 1,843.5 in 2015, and
  • 1,862.5 in 2014

The report also broke down total number of births by race. Hispanics had the most babies in 2017 with 2,006.5 per 1,000 women, while non-Hispanic white women had the fewest at a rate of 1,666.5.

According to ABC News, experts say a number of factors could contribute to the decline including economic uncertainty, student loans, lack of paid leave, and high cost of child care.

"This is basically a continuation of what we saw last year, and really, the last couple of years," Dr. Karen Guzzo, the associate director of the Center for Family & Demographic Research at Bowling Green State University told ABC News. "What's more surprising is that over the longer term, we kind of expected that after the Great Recession has supposedly disappeared and we are doing much better, fertility rates would start to pick up, and they have't."

Dr. Guzzo said the numbers aren't surprising and might offer some insight into how people feel about the current economic climate.

She did say it's possible for the numbers to turn around especially if policies are put in place to make housing and childcare more affordable.

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