Birth Rate Plummets, Young Americans Too Poor To Have Kids

Too Poor To Have Kids

Young Americans are just too poor to have kids.

The number of children born in the U.S. has plunged 8 percent since its all-time high in 2007, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. More alarming: population growth is at its slowest growth rate since the Great Depression, according to the U.S. Census.

Raising kids is expensive. The Department of Agriculture estimates that it costs about $13,000 per year to raise a child in a middle-income family.

Young Americans have borne the brunt of lower wages as 12.8 million Americans remain out of work. The average wage of college-educated men between the ages of 23 and 29 plunged 11 percent over the past decade, and the average wage of college-educated women of the same age fell 7.6 percent, according to data compiled by the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank.

As a result, many are moving back home with their parents rather than becoming parents themselves. Three in 10 young adults have moved back in with their parents in recent years, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2010, for the first time in U.S. history, unmarried households outnumbered married couples, according to the Census.

There's no doubt that birth rate is an indicator of a nation's economic well-being. Typically birth rates are lower in countries with fewer jobs, according to the OECD.

The birth rate has been falling since the housing bubble burst in 2007. 3.98 million children were born in the 12 months ending in June 2011: 8 percent fewer than the peak of 4.32 million in 2007. Nearly half of that decline has occurred since the end of 2009.

The shrinking number of people being born into the future U.S. labor force is likely to damp economic growth. James Stock and Mark Watson, economists at Harvard and Princeton, respectively, wrote in a recent paper that economic growth will continue to be sluggish because the labor force is growing at a slower rate.

"These trends are worrisome since population growth is a strong driver for consumer spending, housing demand, and household formation -- especially among younger age cohorts who are looking to buy their first home, form their first family, have their first child, or buy big ticket items," Chris Christopher, senior principal economist at IHS Global Insight, wrote in a research note on Monday.

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