By on 7.10.23 in Carolina Demographics, NC in Focus

The number of babies born each year in North Carolina, as well as the United States, has been dropping. We published a piece on the topic two years ago when provisional numbers were first released about birthrates during the 2020 pandemic. Since then, the final data has been released.  

(If you read both this piece and the piece we wrote earlier, you’ll notice that percentages are slightly different – that piece was based on provisional data and this piece is based on the final published data.) 

Between 2019 and 2020, North Carolina experienced a Covid-19 baby bust, with births in North Carolina decreasing by 1.7%. The largest decrease in births, -4.1%, occurred in the last quarter,(October through December), about nine months after the pandemic shut down occurred in March 2020. (We suspect the shutdown influenced decisions about whether to have a baby.)  

The sharpest decline took place in November 2020, when the birthrate dropped by 6 percent compared to the previous year. Overall, there were 1,995 fewer births in North Carolina in 2020 compared to 2019, and this downward trend continued throughout the early parts of 2021. 

Since April 2021, births in North Carolina have increased 

We looked at data from the NC State Center for Health Statistics. From 2021 to 2022, births in North Carolina have rebounded. From 2020 to 2021, we saw births increase by 3.2%. The biggest jump took place in in November 2021, which saw a 12.3 percent increase in births compared to November 2020.  

This trend continued into  2022, when there was a 2.7% increase in births year-over-year. Again, we see the  highest growth in November – an increase of 5.1% from November 2021 to November 2022. Provisional statistics indicate that there were 123,698 births in 2022, the highest number of births in North Carolina since 2009.  

North Carolina has recouped the “lost” births from the Covid-19 baby bust of 2020. Although North Carolina’s births have rebounded and there have been two years of consecutive growth, these figures do not suggest that the state is experiencing a baby boom. This is not the first time in the past decade that there has been growth in terms of births: in 2014, for instance, North Carolina births in North Carolina increased by 1.7% compared to 2013.

What this means

Despite an increase in births following the baby bust in 2020, the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in North Carolina (the average number of children a woman would have in her life) remains below replacement level. In 2021, the last year that North Carolina’s Department of Health & Human Services (NCDHHS) published age-specific birth data, the TFR was 1.71, slightly higher than the national TFR (1.66), but still below the 2.1 needed for the population to remain steady. This means that without people moving into North Carolina (in-migration), North Carolina’s population is shrinking.  

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