Changes in enrollment, as well as the demographic makeup of students, are important factors in determining funding available to schools and impact the companies serving the K-12 market. The most important factor driving enrollment is the U.S. birth rate.
Birth rates in the U.S. were declining even before COVID-19, which looks to be another drag on them. In 2020, there were 3.6 million births, or 58.3 births for every 1,000 women aged 15-44 in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That birth rate set a record low for the country. It represents the sixth-consecutive annual decline, and it is down from 58.3 births per 1,000 in 2019.
Contributing factors have been lingering effects of the Great Recession, increased educational attainment by women and delaying of marriage. Every race, ethnic group and age group had a lower birth rate in 2020 than in 2019.
Estimates are there will be 300,000 fewer births in the U.S. in 2021, with the assumption being the pandemic may have caused some women to postpone childbearing amid health concerns and the increased obligations put on working parents. In December 2020, the month when babies conceived at the start of the pandemic would have been born, there was an 8% decline in births from December 2019.
For PreK-12 educational publishers looking to address the needs of a student body that is changing demographically with students shifting geographic locations and how they learn, a good source of information is Simba Information's June 2021 report, PreK-12 Enrollment and Demographics, 2021-2022.