Retirees, millennials at risk as US birth rates fall to lowest level in 32 years, CDC report finds

U.S. birth rates in 2018 fell to the lowest in 32 years, data released Wednesday showed. (AP)

Baby Boomers may not have anyone to care for them when they retire and their social security check may also be at risk, along with other up and coming generations. The troubling foreshadowing comes as birth rates in the U.S. hit the lowest level in 32 years, a government report revealed Wednesday, sparking concern among experts.

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About 3.79 million babies were born in the nation in 2018 — a 2 percent decline from the previous year and the fourth consecutive year the number of births have slumped, provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics showed. Last year’s birth rate also marks the lowest it’s been since 1986 despite the improving economy.

The current generation also isn’t reproducing enough to replace itself, with the fertility rate of 1.7 births per American woman falling 2 percent.

"I keep expecting to see the birth rates go up and then they don't," said demographer Kenneth M. Johnson of University of New Hampshire's Carsey School of Public Policy.

Although some experts said the continuing trend of fewer babies being born could mean labor shortages in the future, others believe young women today will still have children later in their lives. Data showed women in their late 30s and early 40s had slightly higher birth rates last year, while those in their teens and early 20s had fewer babies.

The birth rate for women between ages 15 and 44 reached an all-time low in 2018 with 59 births per 1,000 women. Teenage girls are also having fewer babies, with about 179,000 babies born from mothers ages 15 to 19.

“We see these continuing trends: births to older moms increasing, births to younger moms going down,” Brady Hamilton, a statistician-demographer with NCHS who co-wrote Wednesday’s report, told the Wall Street Journal.

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Other countries are seeing a similar trend in declining birth rates, although American women are still starting families sooner than most other developed nations, research showed. Births were down across racial groups, with small declines for Hispanics, whites, blacks and Asians. The number of babies born to native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders was stable.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.