05/06/2009 02:36 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

NCHS: 20.2% in Cell-Phone-Only Households

Has it been another six months already?**

Today the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its latest biannual report on the prevalence of households without wireless or standard telephone service. This latest, which covers the latter half of 2008, shows the trend toward "cell phone only" households continuing unabated as hat 18.4% of adults were reachable only by cell phone, while another 1.7% lacked telephone service of any kind.


A refresher for those unfamiliar: CDC monitors the cell-phone-only population because it conducts huge ongoing health "surveillance" surveys via telephone, and as such, asks questions about telephone usage on their ongoing, in-person National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). Traditionally, telephone surveys have relied exclusively on random digit dial (RDD) samples that reach only those with landline phone service. These regular CDC estimates are a big reason why most national media polls are now including samples of cell phone users.

The NCHS estimate of the percentage of American households with only wireless phones increased 2.7 percentage points (from 17.5% to 20.2%), amounting to "the largest 6-month increase observed since NHIS began collecting data on wireless-only households in 2003," according to the report. They also note a big jump in what some call "cell-phone mostlys. "One of every seven American homes (14.5%) received all or almost all calls on wireless telephones, despite having a landline telephone in the home."

This latest report also includes a new feature: A chart with regression lines showing the growth in wireless-only households by age and by year. The chart makes clear that while the wireless-only population remains disproportionately younger, it is also growing rapidly among Americans over 30 years of age as well.


For further reading: More on the latest report from Carl Bialik. And see this link for all of our recent coverage involving cell phones and surveys.

**One reason why it seems like less than six months. In March, NCHS released a supplemental report that provided wireless-only estimates for all 50 states (our summary here).