Fewer people of all backgrounds are having babies because of economic concerns but the sharpest drop is among Hispanics, a booming population that contributes almost a quarter of all U.S. births and half of its population growth.
"Hispanic fertility is dropping like a stone," says Kenneth Johnson, demographer for the University of New Hampshire's Carsey Institute.
Hispanic birthrates tumbled 17.6% in three years — from 97.4 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 to 80.3 last year, according to preliminary 2010 data released this month by the National Center for Health Statistics. Non-Hispanic whites still deliver most U.S. births. Their birthrates fell too, but at a much slower pace — down 3.7% to 58.7 per 1,000 women in 2010.