Alongside Income Gap, Internet Gap Remains Wide

Internet inequality: poor households being less connected than wealthier homes.

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Income inequality is the issue du jour in Washington, but it's not just money that many poor households are lacking. New figures show that poor Americans are lacking what has become a basic utility to many: Internet access.

New data from the Census Bureau show that access to the Internet grows with each step up the income ladder. More than 90 percent of people over the age of 3 living in homes with annual incomes of more than $150,000 also access the Internet from some location. That share drops off precipitously among poorer households. Only around 69 percent of people in households making $25,000 to $49,000 access the Internet from some location, and 55 percent of people in homes making less than $25,000 annually access the Internet.

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(Danielle Kurtzleben/USNWR; Source: Census Bureau)

The gap is even more dramatic when looking at raw numbers. Nearly 150 million Americans over the age of 3 live in homes making less than $50,000 per year, meaning that even when a majority of those people have Internet access, tens of millions still do not. More than 75 million Americans don't regularly access the Internet from any location, and nearly 42 percent of those people live in homes that take in less than $25,000 per year.

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(Danielle Kurtzleben/USNWR; Source: Census Bureau)


It’s not just that the poorest Americans can’t stream Netflix as easily; the Internet can be a vital tool for accessing government programs and tools as well as job searching...not to mention the fact that some studies have shown computer and Internet use at home can boost children's grades.