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For Immediate Release: March 16, 2011
Contact: CDC National Center for Health Statistics
Office of Communication

(301) 458-4800

US Death Rate Falls for 10th Straight Year

The age-adjusted death rate for the U.S. population fell to an all-time low of 741 deaths per 100,000 people in 2009 — 2.3 percent lower than the 2008 rate, according to preliminary 2009 death statistics released today by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. This marks the 10th year in a row that U.S. deaths rates have declined.

Life expectancy at birth increased to 78.2 years in 2009, up slightly from 78.0 years in 2008. Life expectancy was up two-tenths of a year for males (75.7 years) and up one-tenth of a year for females (80.6 years). Life expectancy for the U.S. white population increased by two-tenths of a year. Life expectancy for black males (70.9 years) and females (77.4 years) was unchanged in 2009. The gap in life expectancy between the white and black populations was 4.3 years in 2009, two-tenths of a year increase from the gap in 2008 of 4.1 years.

The findings come from "Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2009," which is based on death certificates provided to NCHS through the National Vital Statistics Reporting System from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

Other findings:

  • Age-adjusted death rates declined significantly for 10 of the 15 leading causes of death in 2009: heart disease (declined by 3.7 percent), cancer (1.1 percent), chronic lower respiratory diseases (4.1 percent), stroke (4.2 percent), accidents/unintentional injuries (4.1 percent), Alzheimer's disease (4.1 percent), diabetes (4.1 percent), influenza and pneumonia (4.7 percent), septicemia (1.8 percent), and homicide (6.8 percent).

  • In 2009, suicide passed septicemia (blood poisoning) to become the 10th leading cause of death. Although the U.S. suicide rate did not change significantly between 2008 and 2009, the number of suicides increased from 35,933 in 2008 to 36,547 in 2009 (1.7 percent increase). Deaths from septicemia declined 1 percent from 35,961 in 2008 to 35,587 in 2009. Otherwise, the rankings for the 15 leading causes of death did not change between 2008 and 2009.

  • Overall, there were 2,436,682 deaths in the United States in 2009 – 36,336 fewer than in 2008 (1.5 percent decrease).

The full report is available at www.cdc.gov/nchs.

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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

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