TECH
08/10/2015 03:43 pm ET

Internet Access Still Limited For Low-Income, Uneducated Americans

Fifteen percent of Americans don't use the Internet. That percentage spikes when you look at people who have less than a high school education and those who make less than $30,000.

For many of us, a life without Internet might be hard to imagine. Yet, 15 percent of U.S. adults say they never go online, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center

The survey, published in late July, found that the offline population has been shrinking significantly since 2000, when Pew began collecting data on Internet use. Back then, 48 percent of American adults weren't online. However, in the past couple years, the size of this group hasn't changed too much.

In the graph below, you can see that the downward trend has flattened recently:

Pew Research Center

"We’ve seen slow but steady adoption progress among a lot of demographic groups that have historically used the Internet in low numbers, such as older adults, or those with low income and education levels," Aaron Smith, Pew's associate director of research, told the Huffington Post in an email. "With that said, there are definitely still disparities around this issue and Internet usage overall really hasn’t changed measurably in the last two years."

In fact, the latest Pew survey reveals that Internet non-adoption is still largely consistent with a series of factors such as age, education, household income and race and ethnicity. The chart below breaks down the demographics of non-users based on these different metrics:

Who's Not Online?

Seniors make up the majority of Internet hold-outs by age group: About 39 percent of adults 65 and older aren't online, compared with only 3 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds. In addition, people who lack a high school education, or whose household income is less than $30,000 per year, are also more likely to stay offline. 

The Pew survey also indicated that digital gaps among different racial groups are narrowing. Back in 2000, the Internet population was more homogenous than today: 72 percent of Asian-Americans were online, compared to 53 percent of White people, 46 percent of Hispanics and 38 percent of African-Americans. Over the past 15 years, African-Americans have have seen the fastest growth, with Internet usage rates now approaching that of whites.

Pew Research Center

So much more needs to be done, though. Indeed, new government incentives and social programs have been announced to promote Internet adoption, increase broadband competition and cut down prices especially in rural areas. 

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