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Expand chart
Data: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. fertility rate has reached a record low, and the total number of births in 2018 was the lowest it has been in more than 30 years, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control.

Why it matters: The long-term economic implications of a shrinking future workforce could be dire, as Axios has reported. It's important to remember, however, these trends are also a result of progress — a falling number of teenage pregnancies, the education and empowerment of women, more accessible birth control, and lower child mortality rates, demographers say.

By the numbers: While birth rates fell for younger women in 2018, they rose slightly for women in their late 30s and early 40s, according to the newest CDC data. Women waiting longer to start their families has been a growing, global trend.

  • The total fertility rate, the number of babies a woman of childbearing age is expected to have over her lifetime, is currently at 1.72 — 2% lower than in 2017. It's also notably below the 2.1 fertility rate required for one generation to perfectly replace the next.

Between the lines: The U.S.' high levels of immigration have helped buoy the population. It's a key reason the U.S. is in a better place than other nations with falling fertility rates that are beginning to see the impact on their societies and economies, such as Japan, Hungary and Spain.

  • But immigration might not always be enough to fully compensate for low fertility rates, Global Aging Institute president Richard Jackson and sociology professor Irene Bloemraad from University of California Berkeley told Axios last year.

The big picture People are living longer, growing up slower and delaying marriage, but when it comes to fertility, there is a biological clock. As women wait longer to have kids, they tend to have fewer of them, demographers have told Axios. These demographic realities are changing the way we live our lives and could ultimately lead to slowed economic growth as the costs for caring for a large, elderly generation fall on a smaller young workforce.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.

Advocates fret Roe v. Wade's 49th anniversary could be its last

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March Inc

As Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that legalized abortion access in the U.S., advocates warn the ruling is "more at risk now than ever."

The big picture: The Supreme Court in December heard a challenge to a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban that could throw Roe's survival into question, or at least narrow its scope.

Updated 14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker