There has been a longstanding digital divide in the United States, and its implications are only growing more profound with each passing year. As the world becomes increasingly digitized, many Americans without a reliable internet connection are at greater risk of becoming economically, and even socially, isolated – a trend exacerbated by the pandemic.
A recent report from the advocacy company Broadband Now found that the number of Americans who live in areas where internet access is not available may be as high as 42 million – and that number does not include those who could have internet access but cannot afford it.
Internet access varies across the country, and some states are far better connected than others. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states where the most people lack internet access.
Depending on the state, the share of households with no internet access ranges from 6.4% to over 20%. Nationwide, 11.8% of households do not have internet access. The states where households are most likely to have internet access are located in the West and along the East Coast and tend to have large urban and suburban populations. The states with the lowest connectivity rates, meanwhile, are concentrated in the South and typically have large rural populations.
According to Census data, Americans 65 and older are slightly less likely than younger demographic groups to own a computer or live in a household with an internet connection. In most of the 10 states where the largest share of households do not have an internet connection, the share of the population who are at least 65 years old exceeds the 15.9% share of Americans who are that age. (Here is a look at the U.S. cities with the oldest populations.)
States where households are more likely to be connected to the internet also tend to be better off economically, with lower than average unemployment and higher than average incomes. In contrast, the states with the lowest connectivity rates tend to have higher rates of poverty and joblessness. (Here is a look at the cities with the strongest economies in 2022.)
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