- Associated Press - Friday, January 6, 2017

PROVO, Utah (AP) - The county that boasts the highest birth rate in the nation’s fastest-growing state has produced fewer babies in recent years, following U.S. trends amid still-lingering economic woes.

The births per capita in Utah County still far outstrip the national average, but newly released county health department numbers point to a drop for the second year in a row. Just over 11,000 babies had been born in there as of mid-December, down more than 600 births from the year-end total in 2015, The Daily Herald newspaper in Provo reported (http://bit.ly/2hVXqNo ).

The 2015 numbers also marked a decline from the year before, a recent peak year when more than 12,000 babies were born.

Utah County is just south of the Salt Lake City metro area and includes the city of Provo and Brigham Young University.

Though Utah’s birth rate as a whole remains high, it’s echoing recent national birth-rate trends that peaked around 2008, when immigration was high, and have been falling ever since, said Pam Perlich with the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

“Young people are really in this crunch of student debt and really expensive housing and not very family-friendly work places,” Perlich told the Associated Press.

The Utah County decreases could be related to family economics or the divisive national election, but local doctors are nevertheless staying busy, said gynecologist Jeff Thorpe. Births there tend to spike in August and September when the Mormon church-owned Brigham Young University is in session, he said.

Though Utah County’s approximately 21 births-per-capita in 2015 was down a bit from the year before, it still far outstripped the national average of 12.5.

The county also beat out the Utah’s average of 17.4 births per capita, a figure that helped propel the state to be named the fastest-growing in the country last month by the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Information from: The Daily Herald, http://www.heraldextra.com

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