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New Census Question Highlights Correlation Between Household Income, Internet Service

FRIDAY, SEP 13, 2019

News travels slowly in Gallup, N.M. Web traffic, too – less than 25 percent of its households have broadband Internet access, and 56 percent have no Internet service at all.

More than 17.5 percent of U.S. households have no regular internet service, according to a Social Explorer analysis of Census Bureau data. Although Gallup tops the list, it’s not the only New Mexico place with low internet penetration – 48.5 percent of households in Las Vegas, N.M., and 46.6 percent in Española told the Census Bureau that they had no internet access. 

The low-access metropolitan and micropolitan areas generally are more geographically isolated than places where internet access is almost universal. They also tend to correlate with household income; people living in poorer-than-average metro areas are less likely to have internet service.  The Census Bureau found that 50.3 percent of households in Greenwood, Miss., reported having no internet service; its median household income of $29,182 is barely half the U.S. average of $57,652.

Visualize and analyze households that do not have internet access on the MSA level. Click here to explore further.

The results, taken from the 2013-17 American Community Survey, illustrate another factor in the income gap between wealthy U.S. metro areas that serve as technology or educational centers and their poorer cousins. Only 6.1 percent of households in the Salt Lake City suburb of Summit Park, Utah – where median household income is $94,952 – had no internet service. It was trailed by Provo, Utah (7 percent); Boulder, Colo. (7.7 percent) San Jose, Calif. (8 percent); and Ames, Iowa (8.1 percent).

The Census data also reveal differences in  access to high-speed internet service, with households in wealthy education and tech hubs more likely to have broadband access. Slightly more than two-thirds of U.S. households reported having high-speed internet access, with San Jose (81.8 percent) having the greatest broadband penetration. The Silicon Valley metro was followed by Manchester, N.H. (80.4 percent); Boulder, Colo. (80.4 percent); Bridgeport, Conn. (80.4 percent); and Bremerton, Wash. (79.9 percent).

Despite often offering limited bandwidth and expensive prices, satellite internet service remained an option for 5.4 percent of U.S. households. Athens, Texas, and Pahrump, Nev., reported 22.3 percent of households using satellite internet services. Palestine, Texas, had 20.7 percent of its households using satellite. The three places were trailed by Pineville, Ore. (20.2 percent) and Durant, Okla. (19.5 percent).

Dial-up services – a mainstay of internet access in the late 20th century — were even less popular, with only 0.6 percent of U.S. households tying up a telephone line. Almost a half-million Americans dropped dial-up connections between 2013 and 2017, a 39 percent decline. Even so, 2.5 percent of households in Decatur, Ind., reported having a dial-up connection, followed by Kapa’a, Hawaii (2.4 percent); Pahrump (2.4 percent); Lamesa, Texas (2.2 percent); and Pecos, Texas (2.2 percent).

Author: Frank Bass

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