NTIA Survey Finds 13 Million More Internet Users Since 2021

Digital Inclusion

Poor and nonwhite households are still less able to get online, the report said.

Jake Neenan NTIA Survey Finds 13 Million More Internet Users Since 2021 Photo of Rafi Goldberg, senior digital equity policy advisor at the NTIA, from the agency

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2024 – A new government survey found 13 million more Americans used the internet in 2023 than 2021, the largest increase in seven years. But, the report found, historically disadvantaged households were still less able to get online.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s internet use survey asks Americans every two years about how they get online. It’s been conducted for 30 years in collaboration with the U.S. Census Bureau.

The survey found 83 percent of people ages 3 and older have some level of internet access as of November 2023, up from 80 percent in 2021.

The increase comes “in large part from segments of the population that historically have been more likely to find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide,” Rafi Goldberg, the NTIA’s senior digital equity policy advisor, wrote in a blog post announcing the survey results.

For example, the agency noted that 73 percent of households making less than $25,000 per year had internet access according to the survey, up from 69 percent in 2021. For American Indians and Alaska Natives, the number went from 75 percent in 2021 to 83 percent in 2023. 

Chart from NTIA

That same group of low-income households, however, were less likely to have both fixed and mobile connections, either lacking connectivity altogether or relying solely on mobile devices. The agency said 54 percent of people in households earning less than $25,000 had both home and mobile broadband, as opposed to 80 percent of those in households making more than $100,000.

The NTIA’s survey also found Black, Hispanic, and American Indian respondents were “substantially less likely” than white and Asian Americans to have access to a computer or tablet.

In 2023, 62 percent of Black Americans used one of the two, the agency said, versus 72 percent of white and 71 percent of Asian respondents. The numbers were lower for Hispanics and American Indians.

“The disparities we find when looking beyond overall Internet use suggest that, while our country is making great strides toward getting everyone online in some fashion, the quality and experience of connectivity still varies greatly,” the agency wrote.

Chart from NTIA

The agency said it found 12 percent of Americans live in households with no internet connection, down from 14 percent in 2021. The U.S. has about 131 million households, according to the Census Bureau.

The NTIA has not yet released the complete 2023 survey data publicly. The agency is also working on “new data products that will inform digital equity policy for many years to come,” Goldberg wrote.