From the National Center for Health Statistics: Births: Preliminary Data for 2015. The NCHS reports:
The preliminary number of births for the United States in 2015 was 3,977,745, a decrease of less than 1% (0.3%) from 2014 (3,988,076). This decline followed the increase in births from 2013 to 2014, which was the first increase since 2007 …
The preliminary general fertility rate (GFR) for the United States also decreased less than 1% in 2015, to 62.5 births per 1,000 women aged 15–44, from 62.9 in 2014. This decline follows an increase in the rate from 2013 to 2014, the first increase since 2007.
Here is a long term graph of annual U.S. births through 2015 …
Births had declined for five consecutive years prior to increasing in 2013 and 2014. Births are about 7.8% below the peak in 2007 (births in 2007 were at the all time high – even higher than during the “baby boom”). I suspect certain segments of the population were under stress before the recession started – like construction workers – and even more families were in distress in 2008 through 2012. And this led to fewer babies.
Notice that the number of births started declining a number of years before the Great Depression started. Many families in the 1920s were under severe stress long before the economy collapsed. By 1933 births were down by almost 23% from the early ’20s levels.
Of course economic distress isn’t the only reason births decline – look at the huge decline following the baby boom that was driven by demographics. But it is not surprising that the number of births slow or decline during tough economic times – but that is mostly over now.
In 2015, the preliminary birth rates for teenagers aged 15–17 and 18–19 fell 9% and 7%, respectively, to 9.9 and 40.7 births per 1,000 women. These rates were yet another record low for both groups, from 10.9 and 43.8 in 2014. Since 2007, the rate for teenagers aged 15–17 has dropped 54%, and the rate for those aged 18–19 has dropped 43%. The number of births for teenagers aged 15–17 declined 8% from 2014 to 2015, and births to those aged 18–19 declined 7%.
Far fewer teens births is great news (and is probably related to the much higher enrollment rates).
Another key trends … women are waiting longer to have babies:
The preliminary birth rate for women aged 20–24 was 76.9 births per 1,000 women in 2015, declining 3% from the rate in 2014 (79.0), reaching yet another record low for the country. The rate for women in this age group has declined steadily by 27% since 2007. The number of births to women in their early 20s decreased 4% from 2014 to 2015.
The preliminary birth rate for women aged 30–34 in 2015 was steadily by 8%, but increased slightly from 2013 to 2014 (2). The 101.4 births per 1,000 women, an increase of less than 1% from number of births to women in their late 20s increased 1% from the rate in 2014 (100.8). The rate for this 2014 to 2015. group has increased steadily by 5% since 2011. The number of births to women in their early 30s also increased in 2015 by 1%. … The rate for women aged 35–39 was 51.7 births per 1,000 women, up 1% from 2014 (51.0). The rate for this group has increased steadily by 13% since 2010
Waiting longer to have children makes sense (see: Demographics and Behavior) and we should expect a baby boom in a few years as the largest cohorts move into the 25 to 34 years old age groups.
P.S. I expect that as families have babies, they will tend to buy homes (as opposed to rent)! The demographics are favorable for renting now, but the demographics are becoming more positive for home ownership.