New NTIA Data Show Enduring Barriers to Closing the Digital Divide, Achieving Digital Equity
Newly released data from the 2021 NTIA Internet Use Survey show that historically less-connected communities used the Internet and connected devices in greater numbers than they did two years ago. Despite that progress, the substantial disparities that NTIA has tracked for decades continued to be evident, highlighting the urgent need to work toward digital equity in the United States. The Survey represents the first comprehensive federal data on how Internet use in America has evolved since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Overall, 80 percent of Americans ages 3 and older used the Internet in some fashion in 2021, which represents a modest increase from 79 percent in 2019. However, this top-line number masks some progress among groups that too often are left on the wrong side of the digital divide. For example, even as Internet use among White non-Hispanics was unchanged at 82 percent from 2019 to 2021, it increased from 75 percent to 77 percent during this period among both African Americans and Hispanics. That said, disparities in adoption remain substantial. Only 54 percent of Americans with disabilities used a PC or tablet in 2021, compared with 70 percent of those not reporting a disability. Moreover, while 71 percent of White non-Hispanics used a PC or tablet, only 57 percent of African Americans and 54 percent of Hispanics did so.
We have updated the NTIA Data Explorer tool to include metrics from the most recent survey, while also adding some user interface improvements. And in the coming weeks, we will post the complete public use dataset and sample code for use with statistical programs.
Direct to NTIA Data Explorer
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.