August 27, 2003

Internet Use by Region in the U.S.

Part 6. Industrial Midwest

The Industrial Midwest is one of the more wired regions in the United States and the percentage of novice users here is one of the highest nationwide.

Internet users in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan stand out against those in other regions of the country for several reasons:

  • The user population in the Industrial Midwest has grown to 56% of all adults in 2002, up from 49% in 2000.
  • The region’s proportion of Internet novices (six months’ experience on the Net or less) is one of the largest in the country.
  • A slightly higher proportion of women in the region use the Internet than men. Nationally, the Internet population is evenly split.
  • Users in the Industrial Midwest are firmly in the middle when it comes to most of the popular Net activities.
  • Internet users in the region are fairly reserved when asked whether the Internet has improved their quality of life in specific ways, such as shopping, managing finances, or pursuing a hobby.
  • Only 27% of users in the Industrial Midwest said the Net has helped them improve relationships with family members – one of the smallest percentages in the country. But users in the region are more apt to give the Internet credit when it comes to keeping in touch with friends; 55% say the Net has helped a lot or somewhat.

As in some other regions, growth in the user population in the Industrial Midwest has slowed substantially.

In 2001, 55% of adults were online, up substantially from 49% in 2000. However, between 2001 and 2002, the user population grew only one percentage point, to 56%. This leveling off indicates that growth in Internet usage in the Industrial Midwest has fallen behind national growth rates. Between 2001 and 2002, national Internet usage grew from 56% of adults to 59% of adults in 2002. In 2000, national Internet usage stood at 50% of adults.

The experience level of Internet users in the four states of the Industrial Midwest looks very similar to that of the national user population.

About 41% of users in the region are Web veterans with three or more years of online experience – about 3 percentage points below the national average of 44%. Another 37% have two to three years of online experience, while 14% have about a year online, and about 8% are Internet novices with six months or less online. Nationally, about 34% have been online for two to three years, another 15% have logged on for a year, and about 8% are Internet rookies. The proportion of Internet novices (those with less than six months’ experience) is one of the largest in the country, second only to the South, where 11% of users are novices.

Who’s Online in the Industrial Midwest

The user population in the Industrial Midwest matches the national user population in income and education level.

About 25% of users in the Industrial Midwest live in households earning over $75,000 a year, which is slightly higher than the national average of 23%. Meanwhile, the size of every other household income bracket in the Industrial Midwest is the same as the national average. In the Industrial Midwest, about 18% of users live in households earning between $50,000 and $75,000, another 22% earn between $30,000 and $50,000, and about 19% take home under $30,000 a year.14

About 38% of Internet users in the Industrial Midwest have earned a college diploma or another advanced degree, compared with about 36% of users across the country. By comparison, in New England, which has the most educated Internet user population, about 41% of users are college educated. The South has the lowest proportion of college-educated Internet users (28%). Meanwhile, about a third (33%) of users in the Industrial Midwest have had some college experience, an additional 29% possess a high school diploma, and about 4% of users have less than a high school education. Nationally, about 30% of users have had some college coursework, an additional 29% have a high school diploma, and about 6% of users did not complete high school.

Internet users in the Industrial Midwest are overwhelmingly white. Users in this region include slightly more women and a larger proportion of young adults than other regions in the country.

The Internet population of the four states of the Industrial Midwest is overwhelmingly white – 85%. By comparison, whites make up about 78% of the national user population. The proportion of white Internet users in the region is one of the largest in the country, almost 23 percentage points higher than in California, which has the smallest proportion of whites in its user population (62%). The Upper Midwest has the largest proportion (93%). African-Americans make up 7% of users in the Industrial Midwest, and 4% of Hispanics;15 about 4% come from other races and ethnicities. Nationally, 8% of Web users are African-American, 9% are Hispanic, and 5% are from other races. The proportion of Hispanic users in the region is thus very small when compared with the national average. It stands to reason that the relatively small Hispanic population found in these states can explain this disparity. Likewise, Hispanics in the Industrial Midwest are less likely to use the Internet than their peers nationally.

Users in this region include slightly more women and a larger proportion of young adults than other regions in the country.

A slightly higher proportion of women than men use the Internet in the Industrial Midwest – 51% to 49%. Nationally, the split is even.

The Industrial Midwest has a young Internet population when compared with other parts of the country. About 19% of the Internet population in the region is made up of young adults between 18 and 24. This is slightly higher than the national proportion (17%) and is one of the largest proportions of young adult users in the country. Only California (20%) is higher; the Midwest and the Border States are tied with the Industrial Midwest at 19%, and the region with the smallest proportion of such users, New England has only 12%. An additional 23% of users in the Industrial Midwest are between the ages of 25 and 34; about 26% of users are between 35 and 44; about 19% are between 45 and 54; and 13% are over the age of 55, with 4% being seniors over 65. Nationally, about 23% of users are between 25 and 34; another 26% are between 35 and 44; 20% are between 45 and 54; and 14% are over 55, with 4% being over the age of 65.

About 64% of users in the region are employed full time, the same proportion as the national average. Another 15% work part time.

Users in the four states of the Industrial Midwest appear to engage in pretty much the same activities online as people all across the country.

Sending and receiving email is the Internet’s most popular activity, and 88% of users across the country report doing this. In the Industrial Midwest, about 87% of users have made use of email. About 58% of the region’s users have gotten news online, about 38% have sought financial information online, and 58% have looked for information related to their health. In addition, 42% have done work-related research on the Web, 77% have sought information related to a hobby, about 61% have gone online for no particular reason other than for “fun,” and 42% have bought something from an online merchant. When it comes to using the Internet to find the answer to a question, 74% of users in the Industrial Midwest have done so.

These proportions are roughly the same as for the national user population. Nationally, about 59% of users have gotten news from the Web, 38% have sought financial information online, and 56% have looked for health information. About 41% have done work-related research online, 78% of users have gone online looking for hobby information, about 61% have gone online “just for fun,” about 45% have bought something over the Internet, and 75% use the Internet to answer a question.

Users in the Industrial Midwest are firmly in the middle when it comes to the Web’s most popular activities. Users in other regions have shown that they like certain activities a lot more or a lot less. For instance, users in California (53%) and in New England (55%), who have higher levels of online experience, are more likely to have bought something from an online retailer. Meanwhile, users in the Pacific Northwest (49%), the Mountain States (53%), and the Upper Midwest (55%) are much less likely to go online for no particular reason other than for “fun.”

Users in the region are slightly less likely than other Americans to log on every day. On a typical day, about 55% of Internet users in the four states of the Industrial Midwest log onto the Web. This is slightly below the 57% of users nationally who use the Internet on an average day, and puts the region toward the lower end of average daily use. At one end of the spectrum, the region with the highest daily use is the Pacific Northwest (63%), and the region with the lowest is the South (51%). Daily usage in the Industrial Midwest is about the same as in the Southeast (55%) and the Upper Midwest (55%), two other regions with relatively inexperienced Internet populations. Regions with more experienced user populations, such as the Pacific Northwest (63%), New England (60%), and the National Capital (59%), also have the highest rates of typical day use of the Internet.

Users in these four states tend to log on from home using a standard dial-up connection. Once online, those in the Industrial Midwest are in the middle of the pack in terms of the level of Internet use.

When connecting to the Internet, 82% of home users in the Industrial Midwest use a standard dial-up connection, the same as the national average (82%). An additional 11% have high-speed cable modems, and about 3% have a DSL connection. Nationally, about 10% of home users have cable modems and 5% use DSL to log on to the Internet. The proportion of DSL use in the Industrial Midwest is the lowest of any region in the country, well behind California (10%), where it is most prevalent.

When logging onto the Net, the typical user will most likely do so either from home or from the workplace. Nationally, about 86% of users have gone online from home at one time or another, and about 50% have done so from the office. In the Industrial Midwest, users have logged from both at pretty much the same rate – 85% from home, and 48% from the office.

On a typical day, about 74% of daily users in the Industrial Midwest will log on to the Web from home. This rate of daily access from home is slightly under the national average of 76%. Meanwhile, 41% of those who go online on a typical day will do it from the job, about the same as the national average of 40%.

Once online, those in the Industrial Midwest are in the middle of the pack in terms of the level of Internet use.

About 60% of users in the Industrial Midwest use the Internet at least once a day and about 34% access the Net several times a day. By comparison, about 63% of the nation’s users use the Internet at least once a day, and about 37% go online several times. This puts users in the Industrial Midwest in the middle of the pack in terms of regional daily usage. The National Capital has the highest daily usage; 67% of users report logging on at least once a week, and 45% log on several times a day. In the region with the lowest rate, the South, about 60% of users log on at least once a day and 34% go online more than once. Meanwhile, 19% of users in the Industrial Midwest will log on to the Web about three to five times a week, 12% will use the Internet once or twice a week, and about 6% will go online even less than that. These proportions are almost the same as the national averages (16% go online three to five times a week, 12% log on once or twice a week, and about 6% go online less often than that).

When users go online on a typical day, about 62% will spend about an hour or less in cyberspace – 26% will spend thirty minutes or less and 36% will spend thirty minutes to an hour on the Web. In the Industrial Midwest about 64% of users will spend an hour or less online, with 24% staying in cyberspace for thirty minutes or less, and 40% using the Internet for about thirty minutes to an hour. An additional 8% will log on for an hour to two hours; 13% will use the Internet two to three hours a day; about 6% will stay online for three to four hours; and 10% are heavy users, spending four or more hours on the Web on an average day. These proportions are about the same as for the national user population.

Users in the Industrial Midwest are fairly reserved in their enthusiasm about the Internet’s ability to have a major, positive impact on their lives. In March 2000, users were asked several questions about the extent to which the Internet had helped them improve aspects of their daily life – shopping, getting health information, managing their finances, connecting with family and friends, learning new things, and pursuing a hobby.

Whether discussing their ability to shop, manage their finances, or keep in touch with their friends, users in the region do not laud the Internet as much as their peers in other parts of the country.

Almost half (48%) of users in the Industrial Midwest say the Internet has led to no improvement in their ability to shop. This is expected, given that online shopping is less popular in the region than in other parts of the country. By comparison, 44% of users nationwide said the Internet had no impact on their shopping ability. About 32% of users in the Industrial Midwest noted some or a lot of improvement in their shopping because of the Internet, compared with 34% of users nationally.

While searching for health information on the Web is one of the Internet’s more popular activities, users in the Industrial Midwest are lukewarm when it comes the Internet’s ability to improve the way they can get health care information. While 33% of users said the Internet had either improved a lot or somewhat their ability to find health information, 45% said they had seen no improvement whatsoever. Nationally, 36% of users laud the Internet a lot or somewhat in this regard, and 46% of users cite no improvement.

Users all over the country pretty much agree that the Internet has not had much of an impact on their ability to manage their finances. Nearly 60% of users nationwide said the Internet had had no impact whatsoever, and only about a quarter (27%) noted some or a lot of improvement. Users in the Industrial Midwest have an even lower opinion: About 62% said there was no improvement, and only 24% cited some or a lot of improvement (only 8% saw a lot of improvement, the lowest proportion of any region in the country).

The Internet is frequently praised for its ability to help users maintain and improve their connections with friends and family via email, instant messenger, and other programs. About 55% of users nationally said the Internet had helped improve their connections with family members either a lot or somewhat (31% said a lot). About 29% said the Internet had had no effect whatsoever. In the Industrial Midwest, just over half (51%) of users cited noted a lot or some improvement, while just under a third (32%) of users said the Internet had had no effect. Of note is that the 27% of users who said the Internet had helped them improve their relationships with members of their family a lot represents one of the smallest proportions of users to say so in the entire country; only the Mid-Atlantic (25%) reported less impact. By comparison, 38% of users in the Mountain states laud the Internet when it comes to connecting with family.

Users are more apt to give the Internet credit when it comes to relationships with friends than with family members. About 61% of Internet users nationwide say the Net has improved connections with their friends either a lot or somewhat (34% say there has been a lot of improvement). Only 22% say the Net has had no effect on those relationships. In the Industrial Midwest, users agree that the Internet has had a more positive impact on their relationships with friends than with family, but their enthusiasm is still tempered when compared with that of users in other parts of the country. In the four states of the Industrial Midwest, 55% of users say that the Internet has helped a lot or somewhat their connections with friends. But 26% said the Net didn’t do anything for their friendships–the largest proportion of users in the country to say so.

Nationally, 79% of users agree that the Internet has been a big help or somewhat of a help in their ability to learn new things, and only 10% of users say it has had no impact in this regard. For the most part, users in the Industrial Midwest agree with their peers, but not as strongly. About three-quarters of users in the region say the Internet has helped a lot or somewhat in their ability to learn new things, while 9% say it has had no effect. Again, the 42% of users in the region who said the Internet had improved their ability to learn new things was the second smallest proportion in the country to say so, behind only the Upper Midwest (39%). By comparison, 57% of users in the Border states say the Internet helped improve a lot their ability to learn new things.

Getting hobby information online is one of the Web’s most popular activities, and many users say the Internet has had a big impact on the way they pursue their hobbies. About half of all users nationwide say the Web has had a lot of impact or a somewhat positive impact, while 31% say there was no impact at all. Users in the Industrial Midwest agree, but less fervently. About 48% of users in the region saw some or a lot of improvement, while 31% saw no improvement at all. However, only 18% cited a lot of improvement, as opposed to the 22% of users nationally who said the same thing.

There was a surge of newcomers to the Internet in this region between 2000 and 2001.

As mentioned earlier, the biggest change from 2000 to 2001 was the surge of newcomers to the Internet in the Industrial Midwest. In 2000, just under half (49%) of adults in the region had used the Internet; by 2001, that figure had increased to 55%. Otherwise, there were no significant demographic changes to the region’s Internet population.

Between 2000 and 2001, users in the Industrial Midwest were less apt to use email, look for financial information, do research online for their job, buy something online, or turn to the Internet to answer a question. All these activities fell slightly, most likely due to the surge of newcomers to the Net in the region. These new users are less likely to engage in some of these activities as their more experienced peers. At the same time, there was a small up tick in the proportion of users getting news online.

There were a few changes in usage patterns among users in the region. Of note was a strong increase in the proportion of users accessing the Web from home. Also, there was a slight increase in the percentage of users staying online for more than four hours on a typical day. The proportion of users logging on to the Net on an average day also increased slightly.

Some popular Web sites in the Industrial Midwest

The tables below list the top five Web sites in Chicago and Detroit in April 2003. Those sites are also the top five in the nation and they do not vary much region-by-region. In addition, the table highlights several regional sites that are in the top 25 most heavily used sites in the region during that month. A full listing of the top 25 sites in the region can be found in the spreadsheet that is available here: http://www.pewinternet.org/releases/release.asp?id=66

Some of Chicago’s Favorite Web sites Some of Detroit’s Favorite Web sites
  1. 16% of respondents refused to divulge their household income. Of the entire sample, 17% of respondents refused to answer this question.
  2. Hispanics are self-identified and speak English. Hispanics referred to in this report were surveyed as part of the Pew Project’s general daily tracking poll. Hispanics who speak English tend to skew higher in terms of Internet use.