LOS ANGELES, Calif.–The number of children aged 5 to 9 dropped by 21 percent in Los Angeles County over the past decade, making the county a major contributor to a statewide decline in the population of young children, according to a USC analysis of census data released today.

“We are ground zero of the ‘missing children’ of California,” according to study co-author Dowell Myers, a USC professor of urban planning and demography.

According to the university’s analysis, the lack of families with young children appears to be a result of tough economic conditions, including high housing costs and unemployment.

Statewide, there was an 8.1 percent decrease in the number children aged 5 to 9 over the past 10 years–a reduction of 220,041 kids, according to the report.

The decline could mean fewer future workers to replace retiring Baby Boomers, according to the study’s authors.

The university’s analysis also found:
* The number of single-father households in California jumped 17 percent between 2000 and 2010.
* The number of households composed of married couples and children dropped by 14 percent over the past decade in Los Angeles County. Orange County saw a 7.8 percent drop and San Diego lost 3.1 percent of such households.

Riverside County saw a major increase in homes with married couples and children, up by 22.6 percent.