This decade has gone by like a whirlwind. Due to the 24-hour news cycle, online outrage mobs and incessant fearmongering, it can ostensibly feel like the world has been in perpetual crises. In reality, the past decade has been quite calm. There have been no major wars or terrorist attacks. The stock market continued its longest running bull run in history, and all indicators point to a roaring economy. In general, things are going well, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
Heading into 2020, it’s a good idea to reflect on some of the trends of the past decade, both good and bad, to see where our country is headed, and what we need to focus on.
Here are the top 5 positive trends from past decade:
1. Decline in Abortion Rates
The U.S. abortion rate continued to decline dropping 6% from 664,435 abortions in 2013 to 623,471 in 2016 as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the decrease is 7% based on the Guttmacher Institute’s estimate). Though even one abortion is too many, this drop is encouraging and validates the hard work that pro-life supporters put in to save lives.
2. Rate of Babies Born Out of Wedlock Begins to Decline
After hitting a high of 41% of babies being born out of wedlock in the late 2000s, the number has dropped below 40% for the first time since 2007. We’re far above the rate in 1960 when only 5% of children were born out of wedlock. But the beginning of this decline is a positive development.
3. Stock Market Hits Record Highs
The stock market closed the decade at record highs with the Dow Jones hitting 28,701 on Friday, December 27th. It’s a far cry from the financial crisis of 2008-09 that left the Dow at just 7,062 points.
4. Unemployment Rate Fell to 50 Year Low
The unemployment rate fell to a 50-year low of 3.5% in November, leaving as a distant memory the 10% unemployment rate that was reached in October of 2009.
5. Violent Crime Rates Continue to Fall
Rates of violent crime have continued to fall since the early 1990’s. In 1993, there were 747 violent crimes per 100,000 people. That number has steadily decreased reaching a low of 368 violent crimes per 100,000 people in 2018.
And now, here are the top 5 concerning trends from the past 10 years:
1. The Redefinition of Marriage and Gender
On June 26, 2015, the push to redefine marriage culminated in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell vs. Hodges, which held that same-sex marriage was a constitutional right.
And in the closing years of the decade, we have seen an increasing push from the Left to redefine gender and sexuality. This was displayed by a vote earlier this year to pass the Equality Act in the House of Representatives. The Act passed out of the House 236-173. The bill, if ever signed into law, would redefine “sex” to mean “gender identity” in federal civil rights law. This would obliterate single-sex facilities and sports and undermine religious freedom and free speech rights across the country.
2. U.S. Birthrates Hit Low
The United States birthrate fell to a 32-year low in 2018, reaching the lowest level of births since 1986. The birth rate reached an average of 1.728 births per woman, whereas 2.1 births per woman are needed just to replace the population. Since the economy is booming, birth rates should be increasing. Concerningly, they’re not.
3. Suicide Rate Increasing
The U.S. suicide rate has been steadily increasing since hitting a low in 2000 and has now hit rates that haven’t been seen since World War Two. Time Magazine notes that, “in 2017, 14 out of every 100,000 Americans died by suicide,” and mentioned as contributing factors the opioid crisis, widespread social media use and high rates of stress.
4. National Debt Skyrocketing
The federal government began the decade with just over $10 trillion dollars in national debt. That number has since exploded to an unprecedented $23 trillion dollars for the first time in history. The debt continues to grow unabated at rate of roughly $1 trillion dollars per year, and practically no lawmaker seems concerned about it.
5. Americans Continue to Leave Religion Behind
A study from the Pew Research Center found that the number of people who identify as Christian fell from 77% in 2009 to only 65% in 2019. In contrast, those who identified as religiously unaffiliated increased from 17% in 2009 to 26% in 2019.
This seems to indicate that more and more Americans are ditching religion. Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton wrote an article analyzing the findings and found that the real shift is not from religion to nonreligion. Rather, the shift is in those who previously claimed to be Christian, but never went to Church, who have now given up pretending and adopted the label of unaffiliated.
As with any decade, the news is a mix of good and bad. Heading into 2020, let’s be thankful for every good gift that we have been given, and be ready to tackle whatever tough challenge we may face over the next decade.
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