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Four in Five U.S. Adults Go Online - Usage, Users Profiled

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MediaBuyerPlanner: The number of adults who are online at home, in the office, at school, library or other locations continues to grow at a steady rate, having increased 10 percent in the past year to an estimated 178 million* - or nearly four out of five U.S. adults - according to the latest Harris Poll, reports sister site MarketingCharts.

Shortcuts to tables referenced in this article:

  1. Proportions of U.S. adults who are PC and online users, 1995-2007

  2. Number of U.S. adults online, 1995-2007

  3. Locations from which U.S. users go online and for how long per week, 1995-2007

  4. U.S. online adults’ demographic profile

According to the poll, 79 percent of adults are now online, up from 77 percent in February/April 2006, 74 percent in February/April 2005, 66 percent in the spring of 2002, 64 percent in 2001, and 57 percent in Spring of 2000 (see table: Proportions of U.S. adults who are PC and online users, 1995-2007).
When Harris Interactive first began to track internet use in 1995, only 9 percent of adults reported they went online - that is, just 17.5 million people, according to Harris (see table: Number of US adults online, 1995-2007).
Time Online, Access at Home & Work Increased
The amount of time that people are spending online has also risen. The average number of hours per week that people are spending online is now 11 hours, up from 9 hours last year and 8 hours in 2005 (see table: Locations from which U.S. users go online and for how long per week, 1995-2007).
Home, Work access is also up:

  • The proportion of adults who are now online at home has risen to 72 percent, up from 70 percent in 2006 and 66 percent in the spring of 2005.

  • The percentage of those online at work has also risen, now at 37 percent, and up from 35 percent in 2006.

  • The largest increase is among those adults who are online at a location other than their home or work: up from 22 percent in 2006 to 31 percent today.

Online Demographics Looking Like U.S.’s as a Whole
As internet penetration continues to grow, the demographic profile of internet users continues to look more like that of the nation as a whole. It is still true, however, that more young than older people, and more affluent than low-income people, are online (see table: US online adults' demographic profile):

  • 9 percent of those online are now age 65 or over (compared with 16 percent of all adults who are 65 or over).

  • 39 percent of those online (compared with 47 percent of all adults) did not attend at least some college.

  • 13 percent have incomes of less than $25,000 (compared with 17 percent of all adults).

* Based on July 2006 U.S. Census estimate released January 2007 (225,600,000 total U.S. adults aged 18 or over).
About the data: The Harris Poll was conducted by telephone within the United States in July 2007 (July 10 and 16, 2007) and October 2007 (October 16 and 22, 2007) among 2,062 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, number of adults in the household, size of place (urbanicity) and number of phone lines in the household were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.
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Vahe Habeshian is the director of publications at MarketingProfs and a long-time editor. Reach him via

Twitter: @habesh

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