Count on change

The wrenching changes set in motion by the Great Recession continue to play out in every corner of our lives, even as the nation and the region regain their economic footing. That’s the story told by dozens of statistics — some of them surprising — in today’s release of comprehensive 2012 data by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Here’s a look at some of the most striking trends reshaping life in metro Atlanta:

Baby boom

61 of every 1,000 women of childbearing age gave birth in 2012. That’s up from 52 per 1,000 in 2011. The trend was especially strong among women 20- to 34-years-old. Experts say higher birth rates generally reflect greater economic confidence.

Factory factor

9.2 percent of those employed in the region were in manufacturing jobs, up from 8.6 percent in 2011. Manufacturing is one sector economists look to as a barometer of a region’s fundamental economic health and long-term prospects.

Not working

67.3 percent of people 16 and older are in the labor force. That’s down from 68.1 percent in 2011 and 71.2 percent in 2008. Although that negative trend seems to contradict recent upbeat news on unemployment, the two actually fit together. According to economists, one reason the jobless rate is falling is that many people have left the labor force for good.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey

Note: All American Community Survey figures are estimates and subject to sampling error, but the trends cited are statistically significant, according to the Census Bureau. Figures are for the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta Metropolitan Statistical Area, which in 2012 encompassed 28 counties.