Two online activities of particular importance right now are remote work and taking online classes. Our data show that approximately 51 million Americans reported using the Internet to work remotely in 2019, nearly a third of the estimated 160 million Americans who were employed in November. A smaller number, about 43 million Americans, said they used the Internet to take classes or complete job training last year. That represents about 20 percent of Internet users ages 15 or older.
Although our survey was conducted in November 2019, a few months before the outbreak of the coronavirus, the results can be helpful to understanding the extent to which Americans were prepared to work and learn online.
We previously detailed the substantial demographic gaps in Internet use, but among those Americans who already had an Internet connection, there was little difference across racial or ethnic groups in the likelihood of taking online classes. However, there was a substantial gap based on educational attainment. While 27 percent of Internet-using college graduates and 22 percent of those with some college credit took online classes in 2019, only 10 percent of those with only a high school diploma and 14 percent of those lacking a high school diploma reported doing so.
Moreover, participation in online classes or job training varied substantially with age. Relatively young Internet users were significantly more likely to take online classes than their older counterparts. For example, 30 percent of Internet users between the ages of 15 and 24 reported taking online classes or job training in 2019, compared with just 6 percent of those 65 and older
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