The United States population has hit its lowest growth rate since 1937, as newly released census data shows birth rates in decline and death rates rising, according to the Brookings Institution.
The U.S. had a population growth rate of 0.62 percent in 2017-2018, the lowest it’s been in 80 years. Brookings notes that the growth rate does vary as the nation goes through periods of war, economic recessions and baby booms, but “the current rate reflects a further dip in a trend toward a lower level of growth — below 0.80 percent — registered since the Great Recession of 2007-2009.”
Brookings also notes that immigration has bolstered the U.S. growth rate, making up for some of the decline in natural increase, or the number of excess births over deaths, which “may have been accentuated by young adult millennials, who, still bearing the brunt of the Great Recession, may be postponing births.” The national population of children declined by 1 percent, or 780,000, between 2010 and 2018, though the adult population rose by 8 percent, or 19.2 million.
“This week’s release of census estimates appears to put an exclamation point on what we should be preparing for as the country ages and grows less rapidly from natural increase,” Brookings notes. “It means that policymakers must place increased attention on caring for a larger and more dependent aging population, and dealing with the realities of a slower-growing labor force.”
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