Sioux City Journal, IA 06-25-07 County ranks fifth in birth rate

Sioux City Journal, IA
County ranks fifth in birth rate
By Dan Gearino Journal Des Moines Bureau
DES MOINES -- Woodbury County had the fifth highest birth rate in the state in
2005 and topped all other urban counties except for Polk County, according to
Iowa Department of Public Health figures.
The county had 1,578 births, which is a birth rate of 15.4 per 1,000 residents,
down from 15.8 the previous year. From 2000 to 2005, the birth rate has ranged
from a high of 16.3 in 2000 to lows of 15.4 in 2005 and 2002.
Iowa State University economist David Swenson says birth rates give a sneak
preview of future school enrollments and even the future labor force.
"That's sort of a great, big indicator of what's going on in the state of Iowa," he
The state birth rate was 13.2 in 2005, which is the highest since1993. The rate is
bouncing back after hitting lows of 12.8 in 1997 and 2002, which was the lowest
since rates were first collected in 1915.
The Department of Public Health released the county birth rates earlier this
month. The births are sorted by the county of residence, not the county where
the births took place.
The highest county rate was in Polk County, with 16.4. The lowest was Shelby
County in western Iowa, with 8.
However, the rates tend to vary more dramatically in rural counties, so one year
of a high or low rate is not unusual. Just three years earlier, Shelby County had a
rate of 12.1.
The state's largest counties also have some of the highest birth rates, with just a
couple notable exceptions. Johnson County ranks 47th with a rate of 12.4 and
Story County ranks 60th with a rate of 11.8.
Swenson said those two counties -- home to the University of Iowa and Iowa
State, respectively -- are unique in that they have high populations of people in
their childbearing years, but most of those people want to finish their university
work before they have children. "They're trying very hard to not get pregnant," he
Black Hawk County, home of the University of Northern Iowa, also has a
relatively low birth rate for an urban county, with 13.4, which ranks 25th.
Dan Gearino can be reached at 515-243-0138 and