With two million new users being added each month, more than half of the nation now uses the Internet, and the much-decried “digital divide” is closing at a rapid rate, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
From 1998 to 2001, Internet use by individuals in the lowest-income households—those earning less than $15,000 a year—increased at a 25 percent annual growth rate compared to only 11 percent growth among individuals in the highest-income households, those earning $75,000 a year or more.
The February 2002 report, A Nation Online: How Americans Are Expanding Their Use of the Internet, also shows Internet use among African-Americans and Hispanics increased at annual rates of 33 and 30 percent respectively, with growth rates among whites increasing at a lower 20 percent rate. The growth of Internet usage among people living in rural households increased at an annual rate of 24 percent; the percentage of Internet users among people living in rural households (53 percent) is now almost the same as the national average (54 percent).
The highest growth rate among different types of households is for single mothers with children, at 29 percent. Computer usage among children and teens is higher than any other age group, and computers in schools substantially narrow the gap in computer usage rates for children from high- and low-income families.
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The February 2002 report from the U.S. Department of Commerce, A Nation Online: How Americans Are Expanding Their Use of the Internet, is available on the Internet at www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/dn/index.html.