August 27, 2003

Both Coasts Lead the Nation in Internet Use

WASHINGTON – Internet penetration is not spread evenly across the United States, with some regions of the country well above the national average of 59% and some parts well below.

Even among Internet users there is sometimes considerable variance in the things they do online in different parts of the country.

According to data collected in 2002 by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, high levels of Internet use by adults in this country can be found along its edges – both the Atlantic and Pacific seaboard regions register levels of Internet penetration higher than the national average of 59%. However, the interior parts of the country – the Midwest, the South – are marked by below-average rates of Internet penetration.

The regions were divided as follows (and the percentages apply to the proportion of adults, those 18 years old and over, who use the Internet):

  • New England – 66% are online: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut
  • Mid-Atlantic Region – 58% are online: New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware
  • Capital Region – 64% are online: Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia
  • Southeast Region – 57% are online: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina
  • South – 48% are online: West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas
  • Industrial Midwest – 56% are online: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan
  • Upper Midwest – 59% are online: Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota
  • Midwest – 55% are online: Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa
  • Border States – 60% are online: Texas, New Mexico, Arizona
  • Mountain States – 64% are online: Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, Montana
  • Pacific Northwest – 68% are online: Washington, Oregon
  • California – 65% are online

    “Our research over the last three years shows that regional variations in Internet usage by adults is driven, by among other things, variations in income and education levels in different regions,” said Tom Spooner, the Research Specialist at the Pew Internet Project who authored the report, “Internet Use by Region in the United States.”

    “At the same time, we have discovered some interesting nuggets about Internet use in this country. For example, California has the country’s largest minority Internet population, while the Upper Midwest has the smallest.”

    Some other nuggets in the report:

  • Midwesterners are disproportionately likely to say they use the Internet to get news. Users in the Mountain States, on the other hand, are not very avid online news consumers.
  • Compared to other regions, a high proportion of those in the South look for health information online.
  • Those using the Web in the Pacific Northwest and in California are the least likely to spend time simply browsing the Internet for fun, probably because they are more likely to have a lot of Internet experience. On the other hand, those from all three Midwestern regions are quite interested in going online just for fun.
  • Users in New England and California are most likely to shop online. Those in the South and Southeast are the least likely to do so.
  • The country’s highest concentration of young users can be found in California, the Mountain States, and the Lower Midwest. Its highest concentration of older users can be found in the Pacific Northwest.
  • California has the largest proportion of minority Internet users in the country: 38% are minorities and fully 21% are Hispanic.
  • The National Capital region has the largest proportion of African-American users in the country (17%).
  • The largest proportion of female users is in the Mid-Atlantic (54%); the largest proportion of male users is in New England (55%). Nationally, the user population is split evenly between men and women.
  • Users in the Pacific Northwest are the most likely to go online on a typical day; those in the South are the least likely.
  • Mountain States users are the most likely to have home-based Internet connections, while users in California are the most likely to have work-based Internet connections. Meanwhile, users in the National Capital region are the most likely to go online at the office on an average day, while users in the Northwest are most likely to do so from home.
  • National Capital users are the most likely to log on several times a day.
  • Users in the Pacific Northwest are the most likely to spend thirty minutes or less online on an average day. Users in California and the National Capital region are the most likely to have spent four or more hours online.
  • California has the highest concentration of home broadband users; the Mountain States have the lowest.

    The report utilizes tracking poll data from 2000, 2001 and 2002. Figures about the size of the Internet population in each region was obtained from all three years, while primary demographic and usage analysis was on 2001 data.

    The Pew Internet & American Life Project is a non-profit, non-partisan research organization fully funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts to examine how Internet use affects families, communities, health care, education, civic/political life, and the work place.