Although nearly 98 percent of U.S. homes now have access to some kind of broadband service, about 20 percent of the population doesn’t use the Internet at home, work or school or on a mobile device. And the disparity is still greater within the black community than the white community, according to a New York Times article.
Seventy-six percent of white American households use the Internet, compared with 57 percent of African-American households, according to the “Exploring the Digital Nation,” a Commerce Department report released this summer and based on 2011 data.
The data also show how class, age and geography play a large role in the gap.
… Internet use over all is much higher among those with at least some college experience and household income of more than $50,000.
Low adoption rates among older people remain a major hurdle. Slightly more than half of Americans 65 and older use the Internet, compared with well over three-quarters of those under 65.
In addition, Internet use is lowest in the South, particularly in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas.
The article notes how one of President Obama’s goals in his first term was to invest billions of dollars into helping more people gain Internet access. The plan included a focus on building wired and wireless systems, mostly through grants. But as the New York Times notes, the percentage of people who don’t use the Internet has not changed since he took office.
Administration officials and policy experts say they are increasingly concerned that a significant portion of the population, around 60 million people, is shut off from jobs, government services, health care and education, and that the social and economic effects of that gap are looming larger. Persistent digital inequality — caused by the inability to afford Internet service, lack of interest or a lack of computer literacy — is also deepening racial and economic disparities in the United States, experts say.
Read more at the New York Times.