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Kelly Evans: From bust to baby boom?

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

My daughter may end up having the distinction of being born in one of the slowest times ever for births. 

Only 3.6 million babies were born last year, according to the CDC, and December in particular looks like the trough, with births down 8% year-on-year. It appears that the pandemic accelerated the fertility drop that's been underway for decades--fewer babies were born last year than in 1979, when the population was 225 million people versus about 330 million today. 

The estimated fertility rate also hit a new record low of 1.6 births per woman, well below the 2.1 replacement rate. Worse, twenty-five states had more deaths than births last year.  

It all sounds pretty grim, but might a change already be underway? Researchers at Bank of America have been monitoring sales of pregnancy tests, and guess what? They've been sharply accelerating! Since June, unit growth has been running about 13% year-on-year, compared with the 2% trend that persisted from 2016 through 2019.  

That fits the BofA thesis that millennial parents are about to drive a baby boom (which they say would drive sales at discount stores, in terms of their stock recommendations). It makes sense if you consider the massive Covid flight from rental apartments to suburban homes that would support having more children. I even think about what S.E. Cupp said ("I find myself suddenly longing for a second child").  And it's also been an investment theme Bill Smead has been hammering on CNBC for years.  

There are still powerful socioeconomic headwinds that will complicate any potential rebound in the fertility rate. (Personally, if we're throwing around tax dollars to try and solve the problem, I'd love to see every mom get a baby nurse for a week, and/or a visit from a midwife every so often.) But there is at least reason for hope that the pandemic will give way to a whole new generation of Boomers.  

See you at 1 p.m!


Twitter: @KellyCNBC

Instagram: @realkellyevans