1 in Every 10 Adults in the US Doesn’t Use the Internet

May 10, 2019

This article is included in these additional categories:

African-American | Boomers & Older | Demographics & Audiences | Digital | Hispanic | Household Income | Men | Women | Youth & Gen X

The proportion of US adults who do not use the internet continues its slow decline, per data from the Pew Research Center, as the percentage of the US adult population who do not use the internet has more than halved in fewer than 10 years. Still, 1 in 10 adults remain non-internet users, according to the study.

This new report finds similar patterns of internet usage seen in previous years, with adoption rates strongly correlating with age, household income, educational attainment and community type.

Those variables are outlined briefly below, but before visiting them it’s worth noting that internet usage is consistent among men (90%) and women (90%). However, despite figures from last year showing consistency among races and ethnicities, this year there is a larger gap in usage between White (92%), Black (85%) and Hispanic (86%) adults.


AARP research has shown that tech adoption is steadily increasing among older Americans. However, internet usage remains the lowest among the oldest age group (65+).

More than one-quarter (27%) of adults ages 65 and older do not use the internet, according to this latest study. While this percentage has decreased from roughly one-third (34%) last year, it still means that less than three-quarters (73%) of the 65+ population is active on the internet and can be reached via digital means. While marketers are allocating more of their digital marketing spend to target Baby Boomers, more traditional forms of marketing and advertising communications are still necessary to catch those adults refraining from online use. Traditional TV is perhaps the best opportunity to reach these individuals since they have been shown to spend more time viewing traditional TV.

Meanwhile, about 1 in 8 adults ages 50-64 (12%) do not go online. The percentage drops to 3% of 30-49-year-olds, and Pew’s data shows that all of the 18-29-year-olds they surveyed use the internet.

Household Income

Virtually all adults with a household income of at least $50k use the internet, as do the vast majority (93%) of those with a household income of $30-50k. These figures have not changed from last year.

However, the number of non-internet users goes up considerably among the lowest-income respondents, with 18% of those with a household income under $30k not on the internet.

While internet usage is increasing over time for this income group, it is doing so quite slowly; six years ago, around one-quarter (24%) of those household income under $30K were not internet users.

Educational Attainment

As is true with household income, the data shows a negative correlation between educational attainment levels and internet non-usage (i.e. the higher the level of education, the less likely to be absent from digital life). However, the difference is far more pronounced.

Three in 10 (29%) US adults with less than a high school education do not use the internet. Internet non-usage falls to 16% for those individuals with a high school diploma and takes a sharp decline for those with some college (5%) and a college degree (2%).

Community Type

The percentage of adults who live in urban areas who don’t go online increased slightly to 9% this year (from 8% last year). However, suburban adults have seen a significant decline in non-internet usage compared to 2018 (6% this year vs. 10% last year).

While a greater number of rural Americans do not use the internet compared to other communities, the number has also decreased in the past year to 15%, from 22%.

The full results are available to view here.

About the Data: Figures are based on a survey of 1,502 US adults (18+) conducted in January 2019.

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