UPDATE:

I-70 fatal crash: What we know about the Beavercreek family

We’re having fewer babies and employers, schools will feel it


There is a dearth of births in the United States and if the trend continues it could further aggravate existing problems employers are having finding workers.

Last year the nation’s birthrate hit a record low, falling to 62 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Last year 3.9 million babies were born in this nation of about 325 million people.

The downward trend since 2007 - when 4.3 million babies were born - was sparked by the Great Recession. The drop in birth rate came along with high unemployment and economic pain, a trend that has repeated itself over history.

But what has caught demographers’ attention is that the birthrate has not rebounded, even as the economy has recovered since the recession ended in June 2009.

In fact, an estimated 4.1 million fewer babies were born between 2007 and 2016 than would have been anticipated given pre-recession fertility rates, said Kenneth M. Johnson, senior demographer at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.

“The only thing that is comparable to this is during the Great Depression,” said Johnson, who authored an analysis of the new data. “Whether it’s temporary or permanent I don’t know, but either way it has implications for the American economy.”

The good news in the data is birthrates for women in their teens “has dropped quite dramatically,” he said. “But the fact that the number of births to women in their 20s, particularly in their younger 20s, declined raises questions.”

He and other experts say that women reaching child-bearing age are either delaying childbirth or deciding to not have kids because of a combination of factors. These women grew up watching their families or neighbors struggle in the recession, perhaps losing jobs and homes, leaving them feeling unsettled in the economic recovery that has left many people behind in parts of the country.

RELATED: Unemployment numbers improve, but wages are falling, leading to declines in income

And many of young women are saddled with huge college debt or not able to find good-paying jobs.

“They’re very nervous about their ability to become financially secure,” said Corey Seemiller, assistant professor of organizational leadership at Wright State University.

Seemiller said Generation Z, the oldest of whom are turning 22 this year, may be more likely to hold off on having children until they pay off students loans and have jobs they are comfortable in.

Millennials may choose to not have children out of concern about over-population or may delay childbirth out of belief they can offer a better future to their children if they wait to be more financially secure, said Marc Clauson, professor of history and law at Cedarville University.

RELATED: Ohio jobless rate ticks down

The birthrate declined across all ethnic groups, with Hispanic women aged 20-24 having 38 percent fewer babies between 2007 and 2015, the last year for which ethnic and racial data was available, Johnson said. For that age group, Asian women had 33 percent fewer babies, black births dropped 26 percent and white births declined 24 percent, he said.

That occurred as the actual number of women of childbearing age has gone up since 2007.

Johnson said a decline in births hits first in the baby-supply economy, the slew of food, diapers, toys and any number of consumer items people buy once they have kids. It will show up in elementary classrooms, a replay of the shrinking class sizes that occurred as Baby Boomers - the last of whom were born in 1964 - finished their educations, Clauson said.

He said it will then show up in colleges, already struggling to attract students, which will find the competition for fewer students is even more fierce.

As these babies of the Great Recession aftermath reach adulthood there will be fewer people buying houses and cars, both big engines of the economy. There will also be fewer people to pay taxes, contribute to Social Security and Medicare and to fill job slots.

That workforce problem, said Clauson, could exacerbate the debate over immigration. He said European countries have long had birth rates of half or less than the U.S., a trend that followed those nation’s increasing economic health.

RELATED: Study shows immigrants add millions to local economy

“One reason Europeans have been very keen on immigration is they don’t have the number of people they need in the workforce to employ in various activities, so they have to fill their population up from outside,” Clauson said.

That has created a backlash from those who want to keep immigrants out, he said.

In the U.S., President Donald Trump ran on a platform of tightening the borders with a southern wall and deporting undocumented immigrants. Already Western farmers are complaining that they can’t find people willing to work their fields, Clauson said.

RELATED: Sheriff says Dayton calls itself a ‘sanctuary city,’ the city says it does not

In Ohio, businesses are also complaining that they can’t find people with the right skills to fill jobs.

“The biggest barrier that we are hearing about is failure of potential employees to pass a drug test,” said Nichol Smith, assistant director of the Clark County Department of Job and Family Services.

If the birth rate decline continues she said it will mean her department will need to do more of what they are already doing, including engaging with people at a younger age, focusing on adaptive training for people who have lost long-time jobs and doing more on-the-job training to make employees more likely to be successful.

“I think you try to develop programs that respond to the emerging and in-demand industries,” Smith said.

Dave Lamb, spokesman for Community Mercy Health Partners, said births at Springfield Regional Medical Center have fluctuated but were down in 2016, when 1,165 babies were born there, compared to the 1,282 born in 2010.

“There’s been the occasional uptick or downturn in the number of births (but) we’ve held fairly steady overall despite decreased area population,” Lamb said.

Officials at Kettering and Hamilton city schools also said it is too soon to see an impact from the birth rate decline, but Hamilton Supt. Tony Orr said a recent University of Cincinnati demographic study done for the district showed it is coming.

“We are expecting a decline over the next several years in kindergarten enrollment,” Orr said. “The direct correlation is between birth rate and enrollment.”

RELATED: Fewer babies being born; 5 reasons it matters to you

If enrollment declines in a particular building or incoming class, Kettering typically adjust teaching assignments. But if the birth rate decline leads to an overall reduction in student population, officials would look at cutting positions by attrition, said Dan VonHandorf, director of student services at Kettering City Schools.

“We don’t want classes of 35 and we also don’t want classes of 15 or 12,” VonHandorf said. “So you have to work every year and be careful with your numbers to make sure we are using taxpayer dollars wisely and also having a manageable number of kids for our teachers.”

RELATED: Pregnant inmates have local jails scrambling to provide care



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

OSHP: Woman with 4-year-old child in vehicle charged with OVI
OSHP: Woman with 4-year-old child in vehicle charged with OVI

FAIRBORN — A woman was arrested for suspected OVI after striking a guardrail and trees while driving on Route 4 in Bath Twp. early Thursday, according to police. Ashley Marie Shaffer, 23, had a 4-year-old child in the car with her at the time of her arrest, according to Ohio State Highway Patrol.  Investigators suspect alcohol and drugs...
I-70 fatal crash: What we know about the Beavercreek family
I-70 fatal crash: What we know about the Beavercreek family

A fatal crash on Interstate 70 in Indiana killed two children and hospitalized two others in a family with ties to Beavercreek. Finley Bereda, 1, and Brennen Bereda, 5, were killed Tuesday when a semitrailer hit the van their mother was driving on I-70 near the Illinois-Indiana state line. MORE: Prosecutors reviewing Indiana crash that left two Beavercreek...
Ohio, local leaders react to news Sen. John McCain has brain cancer
Ohio, local leaders react to news Sen. John McCain has brain cancer

The news that Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican nominee for president, has brain cancer drew reaction from across the country and in Ohio. Here’s what some local and Ohio leaders had to say: “I have had the privilege of working and traveling overseas with Senator John McCain to strengthen our Armed Forces. He has not only been a hero...
Centerville attorney suspended for overbilling by $87,000
Centerville attorney suspended for overbilling by $87,000

Attorney Patricia A. Pickrel of Centerville was suspended for two years, with one year stayed on conditions, according to a press release from the Ohio Supreme Court. While working for the Cincinnati office of the Ulmer & Berne law firm, Pickrel over-billed by more than $87,000 for non-attorney, document-review services, according to the release. The...
Clark County Common Pleas Court cases
Clark County Common Pleas Court cases

AUDITOR’S OFFICE Property Transfers Donald and Shirley Parks to Donald Parks, 705 Bayberry Dr., New Carlisle; no fee. Federal National Mortgage Assn., to Donald W. McKee Jr., and Melissa D. McKee, 1109 Edgebrook Ave., New Carlisle; no fee. Katie J. and Curtis A. Estes to Katie J. Estes, 4225 Quwood Road and 0 Quwood, Rear, Springfield; no fee...
More Stories