U.S. 2018 births fall to lowest level in 32 years; Utah has highest rate

(Seth Wenig | AP file photo) Newborn babies rest in the nursery of a postpartum recovery center in upstate New York. According to a government report released Wednesday, May 15, 2019, U.S. birth rates reached record lows for women in their teens and 20s, leading to the fewest babies in 32 years.

The United States is confronted by its lowest number of births in 32 years, according to provisional data released by the National Center for Health Statistics.

The total fertility rate (which represents the number of births per woman), is steadily decreasing, and remains under its replacement level of 2.1 per 1,000, where it has been since 2009. However, all states are not equal when it comes to the diversity of their new generation of toddlers.

One way to look at the matter is to dive into national statistics.

According to NCHS data, a total of 3,788,235 babies were born in the United States in 2018. The Census Bureau estimated the population of the United States to be 327,167,434 in 2018, meaning that the birth rate for that year was of 11.58 babies per 1,000.

That is a new low, too. It's a 2% decline from 2017.

This aggregate hides stark disparities at the state level: Vermont’s birth rate — the lowest of the 50 states - is 8.7. In Utah, the rate is the highest at 15.77.

When digging into state level data racial disparities become evident.

Looking at the number of babies born by state for each race gives a look into the diversity divergences in the United States. In some states, like Vermont, Maine, Kentucky or Montana, newborns are overwhelmingly white. However, these states are overwhelmingly white, too.

In Maine, for example, in 2018, out of the 12,308 babies born in the state, 11,019 were white. This represented 91% of all births. In Maine, 94% of the population is white — the whitest of the 50 states.

In 2018, out of 6,557 babies born in Wyoming, only 57 were African American.

On the other hand, in Mississippi, in 2018, 43% of all newborns were African American. Mississippi also had the highest proportion of African Americans in the United States: approximately 37% of the whole state population.

White babies are the minority in 13 states.

Percentage of births amount to 97.1 of the total as "two or more races" were not included in the data. All numbers come from the NCHS 2018 provisional estimates.

Key insights:

  • Total cesareans fell slightly to 31.9% from 32% in 2017.

  • Number of U.S. births has declined for the fourth year in a row.

  • Greatest number of births occur in August; least in February.

  • The birth rate has generally been below replacement since 1971.