Pwe report+Mobile Internet userMore than one quarter (27%) of U.S. residents over the age of 15 are “high-connectivity” individuals, according to a report released yesterday from the U.S. Census Bureau. These individuals connect to the Internet both inside and outside of the home from multiple devices. The report, titled “Computer and Internet Use in the United States,” is based on data collected in 2011.

At the opposite end of the continuum from the “high-connectivity” individuals are 15.9% of U.S. residents who do not use the Internet anywhere and have no computer use at home. In between are groups with different levels of computer and Internet usage, as shown in the following chart:

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The census bureau has been gathering data about computer usage since 1984 and about Internet usage since 1997. But the new report marks the first time the bureau has compiled data about the various types of users along the continuum.

This year’s report also marks the first time the census bureau’s Internet research asked about smartphone usage. Perhaps the most interesting finding from that report relates to usage by race and ethnicity.

When it comes to landline broadband, the census bureau research traditionally has seen a gap between the percentage of Asian and white non-Hispanic people using the Internet in comparison with African-Americans and Hispanics. And that gap emerged again in the latest report, which found that 76.2% of non-Hispanic white and 82.7% of Asian households used the Internet at home, compared with 58.3% of Hispanic and 56.9% of African-American households.

Such gaps are less pronounced or even non-existent when it comes to smartphone usage, however. Although smartphone usage was higher for Asian respondents (51.6%), the reported rates for white non-Hispanics and African-Americans were not statistically different from one another, running about 48% for both groups. The usage rates of African-Americans and Hispanics also were not statistically different from one another, the census bureau said.

“When compared to percentages of home Internet use, smartphones appear to be leveling the Internet use disparities traditionally present for race and ethnicity groups,” wrote the report authors.

Other interesting report findings:

  • States with a high percentage of “high-connectivity” individuals were scattered all over the country and included: Colorado (35.8%), District of Columbia (34%), Maryland (33.5%), Minnesota (33.4%), Washington (33%), New Jersey (32.6%) and Connecticut (32.6%).
  • States with a large percentage of people without connectivity were likely to be in the southern half of the U.S., including: Mississippi (26.8%), New Mexico (21.7%), South Carolina (21.6%), West Virginia (21.5%), Tennessee (21.2%), Arkansas (20.8%) and Texas (20.5%).
  • Smartphone usage by state shows a clear geographic pattern. Many states in the Southeastern and Northeastern parts of the country and the eastern part of the Midwest had smartphone usage below the national average. But the vast majority of states west of the Mississippi had smartphone usage rates that were either close to or above the national average.

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Considering that the census bureau report is based on data that is nearly two years old, the percentages of people using smartphones to access the Internet undoubtedly is substantially higher than what the report shows.

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