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home : latest news : regional April 30, 2016

4/18/2014 6:00:00 AM
Arizona a leader in unwed mothers
Mohave County, though, among lowest rates in U.S.

The Census Bureau's American Community Survey said 35.7 percent of births nationwide in 2011 were to unmarried women. Among the findings were estimates of the rates by metropolitan statistical area:

The highest by percentage:

• Flagstaff 74.6

• Greenville, N.C. 69.4

• Lima, Ohio 67.5

• Myrtle Beach-North Myrtle Beach-Conway, S.C. 67.4

• Danville, Va. 67.3

• Brunswick, Ga. 66.2

• Redding, Calif. 63.8

• Monroe, La. 62.5

• Sumter, S.C. 61.6

• Albany, Ga. 61.5

The lowest by percentage:

• Cheyenne, Wyo. 4.7

• Palm Coast, Fla. 6.2

• Jonesboro, Ark. 8.0

• Provo-Orem, Utah 8.2

• Missoula, Mont. 8.6

• St. George, Utah 10.4

• Logan, Utah-Idaho 10.7

• Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, Wash. 12.2

• Bremerton-Silverdale, Wash. 12.5

• Lake Havasu City-Kingman 12.7

By Whitney Ogden
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON - Almost three of every four babies born in Coconino County in 2011 were born to unmarried women, the highest rate in the nation, if Census Bureau estimates are correct.

That's a critical question for experts in Arizona, who said the Census estimates have to be treated with caution.

But most experts agreed that births to unmarried women are a problem for Coconino and for Arizona as a whole, which was one of 14 states with rates "significantly higher" than the national average in 2011.

"The overall state percentage is not too surprising," based on teen births, said Sheila Sjolander, assistant director of public health prevention services at the Arizona Department of Health Services. "Arizona has historically had higher rates of teen births than the rest of the country."

The 2013 American Community Survey report said non-marital births made up 39.5 percent of all births in Arizona in 2011, compared to a national rate of 35.7 percent.

It said the rate for the Flagstaff metropolitan area - which includes all of Coconino County - was 74.6 percent that year. By contrast, the Lake Havasu City-Kingman metro area, which covers all of Mohave County, was 10th-lowest in the nation, with just 12.7 percent of babies delivered by unmarried moms in 2011.

But critics of the Census numbers pointed to the large margin of error in the survey: 15.2 percent for the Flagstaff region, which means the number could have been as low as 59.4 percent.

The Arizona Daily Sun reported last year that a review of birth certificates in Coconino County put the actual number of births to unmarried moms at 50 percent in that year - still higher than the state and national rates.

Critics also point to the fact that Native American and Hispanic women nationally had relatively high single-mom birth rates, at 64 percent and 43 percent, respectively. That could have driven up the numbers in Arizona, and particularly in Coconino County, where those two groups account for about 40 percent of the population, they said.

"We've had a lot of issues in Arizona ... with the so-called undocumented immigrants," said Kooros Mahmoudi, a Northern Arizona University sociology professor with expertise in demography.

He said the Census survey could have sampled a fair amount of mothers who "are not going to report the existence of the father," if the father is at risk of deportation.

Tom Rex, an associate director at Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business, said the ACS survey leaves too many questions unanswered and has too large of a margin of error.

"Is (the percentage) high because people aren't getting married but they are still together ... or because there is no man involved?" he asked. "We'd need to know more."

Rex said the report comes from too small a sample to reliably report on smaller categories such as individual states, metro areas, race, age and economic status.

Even if the numbers are spot on, Rex said, their impact does not necessarily mean anything for Arizona because it all depends on who you talk to.

"You can't immediately assume it's the most awful thing in the world," he said. "There are other people who ask, 'What's the big deal?'"

But others said the number of unmarried moms, and the challenges of single parenting, is a big deal. It is an issue that Arizona needs to address, said Chris Coffman, CEO of Helping Hands for Single Moms.

"It is a major factor in our state," Coffman said.

Sjolander said the number of programs in the state that assist single mothers and pregnant teens has increased. Coffman said those programs need to continue to grow with the growing amount of single moms seeking help.

He said the number of people in Arizona applying for assistance like food stamps and low-income housing "are growing, demands are growing, and it's fueled by single parents."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Article comment by: Amaryllis Smith

Mr. Moore, All you do is criticize me continually and rather submit anything of substance, you choose to waste your time only putting into quotation marks what another person has written.
That is tiring!
You are always having to use the word genitalia, which is disgusting.

Yes, I do believe two people should be married before bringing a child into this world and it is disgusting when a couple simply live together having children to continue to receive state assistance, and yes I Think it is Wrong!
But, as morals have gone to hell in this country, so shall this country go if we continue to accept the unacceptable. And yes I do believe the fathers of these babies should MANUP and be a man.

Another thing, when young I never dated a guy who didn't have a car and paid the tab, and I would Never have married a man who didn't have a job and take care of me and our children! Well I guess thanks to women's lib that tradition went by wayside but could still be reversed.

As for men's stuff you mentioned, no I don't want to pay for that either and just like birth control there are class action lawsuits in progress as we exchange pleasantries here.
Yet they refer to these as women/men health issues, ha!

Posted: Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“I don't deny a female birth control, if you want it go buy it just not with my dime…”

It is interesting that I feel the same way about my monies being spent to provide drugs for people who smoked themselves into lung cancer, but realistically I understand the necessity to do so to preserve their pathetically misguided lives. And since you seem to be obsessed with other peoples sexual habits how do you feel about men being given erectile dysfunction medications on “your dime?”

“Judgment I Do Not make…”

Of course you do, day in and day out on here. You judge women who want to undergo a legal medical procedure, you judge what other do with their genitalia, you judge people who want lying old racist crooks to pay for the use of public (i.e. OUR) land. You do nothing else each and every day. And it as grown very tiresome.

“Let me tell you a story…”

No thank you, it has no bearing on anything

Posted: Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Article comment by: Amaryllis Smith

I don't deny a female birth control, if you want it go buy it just not with my dime, if single mother why do you need it??
I don't deny a child care, if two people have a child together, take responsibility (BOTH of YOU) and take care of it, don't expect everyone else to, if it was mistake, learn from it and don't let it happen again!

Let me tell you a story, a young couple wanting a child in 1966, husband good job, pregnancy doesn't happen. 1968 husband & wife in agreement, he starts his life long career @ 50% pay cut, receives duty station - they get there, find out wife is pregnant. Wow, murphy's law, because they'd decided not sell their home intending to return when time came.
Did they then turn to state for child care? No! never even considered it, husband worked at a local service station on days off to help cover added expenses.
Why? Sense of self responsibility and self sustainment along with right dose of self pride.

Was it monetarily easy, no but they set aside things of self indulgence. Did they suffer from the circumstances, Absolutely not, they became closer as a couple and stronger in character, faith, hope and trust.

It is an individuals responsibility, if unwed and needed, family needs to step up and shoulder some of that.

Posted: Monday, April 28, 2014
Article comment by: Amaryllis Smith

Concerned Citizen, I thank God your mother chose to give you, as a tiny human being, life so that you could have it and go on to reach your full potential and proud for & of you as it's apparent you have! Good for you sincerely!!

Judgment I Do Not make, facts are facts! When you bring a child into this world it is the parents responsibility to care for, nurture, give consistency, sense of security and above all Love to that child!!!
NO one but you and child's father partake in the creation of that wonderful life, therefore It Is and always will be your first and foremost responsibility in your lifetime!!

Unfortunately, we live in world of immediate fleeting self gratification and find ourselves in state of dependency that should've never happened in first place!

From 80s on, wanting to help, the people and State have created a web of utter expectation from those who make wrong choices!!
"TOO OLD FASHION" you say, NO, having a sense of Self Respect and Respect for order in which life is intended is and Should Never be considered wrong or "Old Fashion"!

Exposing young kids to all variety of sexual content and robbing them of their right to childhood innocence Is Wrong!
The attitude of " Oh Well" their going to do anyway, might as well let it happen Is Wrong!

Posted: Monday, April 28, 2014
Article comment by: Local Resident

Its disgusting how quick people are to judge others! Taking benefits from those who need it will do nothing but cause more problems.

Posted: Monday, April 28, 2014
Article comment by: Concered Citizen

Amaryllis Smith your way of thinking is wrong, cutting benefits creates more problems then it solves! Your way of thinking is too old fashion! As a child born out of wed-lock I am offended! I have no children and I provide and take care of myself just fine and am even college educated.

Posted: Saturday, April 19, 2014
Article comment by: Amaryllis Smith

This is such a huge problem for the entire country!
In the 60s the rate was 6% out of wedlock babies, it is a whopping 71% across the country.
It is thinking like yours Marla that has caused unwed mothers to escalate. I heard that same thing in the 80s.
It is laziness and low expectation of the parents that has contributed to this yet another mess for all others to pick up the tab!

I totally agree, CUT OFF the STATE WELFARE for these people and expect them to be responsible!
It isn't as many teenagers as it is those 18 into early 20s! It is totally irresponsible for them to behave in this manner.
The Miner recently had a question on why no birth announcements and answered it is a privacy matter. Yeah, like don't let the main population see the number of births and how many are outside of marriage.

Maybe this has become the norm but, there are means to change that and it darn sure needs to be!!!

Posted: Friday, April 18, 2014
Article comment by: Oh MY!

Well yeah, oh course & this county is the lowest, worst county in the state. BUT, I did choose to live here. oh well, to that one! I sincerely hope that intelligent people.... whoever you may be, check the stats for the entire state.

Posted: Friday, April 18, 2014
Article comment by: Marla Kiriakidis

Ironically the same people that complain about single mothers also want to deny them birth control and child care help. Kids have sex. And while some will wait most will not. Pretending to be a Ostrich will not make this problem disappear. And please don't act like this is something new. My parents generation had the same. The only difference is that the girls now days keep their kids instead of putting them up for adoption.

Posted: Friday, April 18, 2014
Article comment by: Big Frog

We're #1! We're #1! We're #1!

Posted: Friday, April 18, 2014
Article comment by: no surprise here

This has become the new normal and until the government stops providing the monetary support for them with other peoples money it will only get worse..cut them off the hand outs and the stats will drop fast.

Posted: Friday, April 18, 2014
Article comment by: Big Deal?

The same people who say "what's the big deal?" about such a large number of single women giving birth in AZ are probably the same ones who scream loudest about the tax rate- someone has to feed those little mouths. And, guess who it is? You and ME. Stop social services feeding anyone who is not a citizen of this country and make those who accept charity - which social services actually is- WORK for it. Clean streets parks highways. If they are well enough to go out and get pregnant then they are strong enough to work for their food and for their childrens food, as well. Bet we'd have far less on SocServices if they HAD to work for it.

Posted: Friday, April 18, 2014
Article comment by: Trained Observer

I guess these all were immaculate conceptions because there is not too much mention of unwed fathers. Keep restricting access to birth control and meddling in people's personal lives and you get to pay the tax burden forever.

Posted: Friday, April 18, 2014
Article comment by: Count This

Ahhh Arizona, the State of Love ...

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