Daffny Atwell would love to have another baby. Her son, Nathaniel, turned 1 on Sunday, and she's ready for more.
But she can't afford it. Her Pampered Chef business is hurting as many of the people she knows are looking for work and barely scraping by.
"A baby is an awesome thing, but when you have so much stress, you don't want to bring a baby into that and have to worry so much," said Atwell, 19, of Leavenworth.
Chalk up another casualty of the worrisome economy: baby-making.
A "baby bust" strikes when times are bad -- the Great Depression and the oil recession of the mid-’70s saw record lows in U.S. birth rates.
It's still early to have a full view of the current recession's birth rates, given that it takes nine months to make a baby and government statistics lag behind real time. But demographers are seeing signs that Americans are holding back again as unemployment nears 10 percent and legions more are worried about providing for a family.
For example, Missouri's birth rate -- the number of births per 1,000 women of child-bearing age -- in the first five months of this year dropped 6 percent, a decrease that state demographers called substantial.
The decline is the biggest change Missouri has seen in birth rates in the last five years.
"It's a very big change," said Carl Haub, senior demographer at the Population Reference Bureau in Washington. "It kind of sticks out."
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