It's one of those economic recoveries where we just can't afford to reproduce.
The average number of births per woman in the U.S. is likely to plunge to a 25-year low in 2012 and 2013, according to Demographic Intelligence, a consulting firm that analyzes fertility data and forecasts birth rates, which was cited by USA Today. The birth rate has plunged most significantly among the less educated and Hispanics, while it continues to increase among college-educated whites and Asian-Americans.
The number of children born in the U.S. has plunged 8 percent since its all-time high in 2007, and population growth is at its slowest growth rate since the Great Depression, according to government data.
A middle-income family will spend $235,000 (or $295,560 if adjusted for projected inflation) to raise a child from birth to age 17, according to the Department of Agriculture. The annual cost of raising a child is between $12,290 to $14,320 per year for middle-income families, according to a 2011 government report.
The price of parenthood is simply too high for young people, who are arguably suffering the most in the anemic job market.
Even when young people do find work, their jobs don't pay well enough to raise a family. The average starting salary for the college classes of 2009, 2010 and 2011 is $27,000 per year, down from $30,000 per year for the college classes of 2006 and 2007, according to Rutgers.
Japan is a cautionary example of what could happen if the U.S. economy stays weak indefinitely. Japan has been in an economic downturn since the early 1990s, and as a result it now is facing a demographic crisis: the Japanese population is projected to shrink by one-third by 2060, and by then 40 percent of the Japanese population is projected to be age 65 and older.
Some developing countries with high poverty tend to have some of the highest birth rates in the world, due in part to poor access to education and birth control for women. But birth rates tend to fall in industrialized countries when the job market is weak.
Kim Kardashian is not alone. <a href="http://www.npr.org/2011/02/10/133631484/for-some-couples-economic-indicators-say-split" target="_hplink">There has been a surge in divorces</a> since the start of the economic recovery, according to NPR. Divorce is expensive, so with the economy on the rebound, unhappy couples now have the means to divorce.
Say goodbye to the recession haircut -- better known as cutting your own hair to save money. <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/id/46796981" target="_hplink">Sales at hair salons</a> have increased 5.37 percent since 2009, according to research by Sageworks cited by CNBC. <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-small-business/better-economy-better-hair/2012/04/04/gIQAic8vvS_story.html" target="_hplink">These hair salon sales include not only haircuts</a>, but also hair coloring, according to <em>The Washington Post</em>.
More Dinners Out
We're now treating ourselves more to a nice meal out. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/17/business/economy/sales-at-sit-down-restaurants-suggest-a-rising-economy.html" target="_hplink">Sales at sit-down restaurants have risen 8.7 percent</a> over the past year, according to government data cited by <em>The New York Times</em>.
More Plastic Surgery
Notice some of your friends are looking a bit more nipped and tucked lately? That's because plastic surgery procedures often see a boost during better economic times. <a href="http://www.plasticsurgery.org/News-and-Resources/138-Million-Cosmetic-Plastic-Surgery-Procedures-Performed-in-2011.html" target="_hplink">There were 13.8 million plastic surgeries</a> in 2011: up 5 percent since 2010, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
More Zoo Visits
More parents are treating their kids to zoo visits now that the economy is recovering. <a href="http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/oak-cliff/headlines/20120402-dallas-zoo-sets-record-for-attendance-in-a-month-over-145000.ece" target="_hplink">The Dallas Zoo had record attendance</a> in March: 145,441 paying visitors, up 18 percent from the record set the year before, according to the <em>Dallas Morning-News</em>.
More People Quitting
When the economy gets better, workers that are unhappy at their jobs are more likely to quit, since they feel they have a better chance of finding a better job. <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/id/47030350" target="_hplink">More workers now are quitting than getting fired</a>, according to Labor Department data cited by CNBC.
More People Riding The Subway
People that used to walk to save money are taking the subway again. <a href="http://www.ny1.com/content/news_beats/transit/159176/mta--subway-ridership-at-highest-level-since-1950" target="_hplink">More New Yorkers are riding the subway</a> than at any point since 1950, according to NY1.
More Dentist Visits
People that delayed dentist visits to save money are going to see the dentist again -- possibly to find out they have cavities. <a href="http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000076504" target="_hplink">Dentist visits are rising</a> thanks to the economic recovery, according to CNBC.
New Men's Underwear
Men that made do with their old underwear now are buying new underwear as the economy improves. <a href="http://1bog.org/blog/infographic-five-weird-signs-the-economy-is-improving/" target="_hplink">Men's underwear sales have increased 5.2 percent</a> in the 12 months ending in August 2011, topping $2.58 billion, according to One Block Off the Grid.