In all the hubbub over the unemployment trend, we mustn’t forget a more basic indicator of the way things are — the fertility rate.
I’m not just saying that because it looks like I was right (more or less) that fertility would rebound in 2011, based on my advanced amateur Google search analysis. (That’s what you get for your tax dollars (thanks, Maryland) — a prediction pretty much as good as some corporate scam.)
Based on the new 2011 fertility report and annual unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we can now report that fertility rebounded — with a dramatic drop in the rate of decline, and that fertility changes are pretty closely related to unemployment trends.*
Here’s the trend in change in fertility:
Sure, fertility rates again hit an all-time low, but it’s the direction that counts.
More importantly for the moment, it looks like it is still related to unemployment. Here is the relationship between change in the unemployment rate from 2009 to 2010, and change in the fertility rate the next year, 2010-2011, for each state. The correlation is about -.45, continuing the association reported for early years in the recession (06-09 and 06-10).
So, put it this way: As as been the case throughout the recession, falling fertility is concentrated in states with worsening economic conditions.
* Generalizations(TM) about statistical associations should not be taken as predictions about the future or descriptions of stable directions in underlying trends.