KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — While National Infertility Awareness Week is April 24-30, a look at the data behind Tennessee’s population growth shows it’s fueled by people moving into the state instead of by couples having babies. In fact, Tennessee has been seeing a falling fertility rate for more than a decade, according to the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research’s Tennessee State Data Center.

The Tennessee State Data Center reported in January that “there also is new research showing as many as 60,000 ‘missing births’ across the country between October 2020-February 2021.”

“These births, measured as the difference between actual and expected births, would have been associated with conceptions occurring between January and May 2020. While fertility rates have since returned to pre-pandemic levels, its continued decline means that the number of births will be flat or falling in the near-term.”

The data also showed that the state’s migration increases were tempered by a surge in deaths in 2021, which grew to 84,944. However, births fell to 77,353 in the same period — pushing Tennessee’s natural change, which is births minus deaths, “into negative territory for the first time.”

The data also shows the larger trend of falling fertility and growing deaths predates the pandemic. In early 2021, the data center also touched on the slowing birth rate in the state – in 2019, before the pandemic.

The state closed the decade with 80,450 live births in in 2019. That was the lowest birth total since 2013 and the second year that births declined.