Special Report

States With the Biggest Drops in Births Last Year

In the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, many media outlets and researchers predicted that with all of those stay-at-home orders and work-stoppage mandates, couples would huddle together for some extra randy “Netflix and chill,” leading to a significant increase in 2021 birth rates. News headlines bleated that a “COVID-19 baby boom” would erupt in 2021.

But that boom turned out to be so small that it barely measured as a year-over-year increase (though it was the first such rise since 2014). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics counted 3,664,292 live births across the country in 2021 – statistically less than a 1% increase over the previous year. And data from 2022 indicates that the country’s fertility rate is back on its decades-long downward trend. A preliminary estimate by the CDC counts 3,661,220 babies were born in the U.S. last year – nearly a 1% decrease from 2021. (See how many people were born the year you were born.)

“We’re back where we started before COVID hit,” Phillip Levine, an economics professor at Wellesley College who researches fertility rates, told the Stateline nonprofit news network. In 2022, women in 37 U.S. states had fewer children than the previous year. In 10 of these states, the decline ranged from 2.2% (in Louisiana) to 5.28% (in Wyoming).

To identify the states where births declined last year, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the number of births in each state in 2021 and 2022 using preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Population statistics for each state came from the U.S. Census Bureau. Provisional counts may differ by approximately 2% from final counts, due to rounding and reporting variation. Additionally, the accuracy of the provisional counts may change over time. 

Click here to see the states with the biggest drops in births last year

Among the top 10 most-populous states – home collectively to more than half the people in the country – only Texas, Florida, and Georgia recorded year-over-year increases in live births last year. Five of these high-population states experienced declines above the national average. For example, Illinois women birthed nearly 53,000 fewer babies last year than in 2021, a 3.1% drop. (These are the states where deaths are outpacing births.)

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