American Internet Usage Growth Statistics

Pew Internet recently published an updated fact sheet that looked into the growth of internet usage among the US population over the years. The data in the report starts in 2000 when internet usage among US adults was around 52%. This figure gradually climbed to over 60% in 2003 and it took another three years to cross the 70% barrier in 2006.

For the next six years, internet usage among US adults hovered around the 70-79 percent mark although this figure continued to move up over this period. In 2012, the figure breached the 80% figure and at last count in 2016, the internet usage among the American adult population is at 88%. Here is a table with all the relevant data.

Year Internet Usage in %
2000 52%
2001 55%
2002 59%
2003 61%
2004 63%
2005 68%
2006 71%
2007 74%
2008 74%
2009 76%
2010 76%
2011 79%
2012 83%
2013 84%
2014 84%
2015 86%
2016 88%

US Internet Usage By Age

The millennials in the 18-29 year age-group are by far the most savvy when it comes to internet usage. The usage among this group is at a staggering 99%. For perspective, this figure was at 70% in 2000. Back in the day, the 30-49 year old group had a near 10 point deficit over the then 18-29 year age group at 61%. However, as of today, that deficit has been more or less wiped out. Close to 96% of Americans in the 30-49 year old group today access the internet.

Usage among the 50-64 year group too has been impressive. Back in 2000, this age bracket saw internet usage by only 46% of the population. Today, that figure is as much as 87%. Understandably, the only laggards in this stat are the 65+ year group where only 64% of the population accesses the internet today. The corresponding figure for this group at the turn of the century was 14%. Still, an impressive growth in adoption.

18-29 30-49 50-64 65+
2000 70% 61% 46% 14%
2001 72% 65% 50% 14%
2002 76% 70% 54% 18%
2003 78% 72% 56% 22%
2004 77% 75% 61% 24%
2005 83% 79% 66% 28%
2006 86% 82% 70% 32%
2007 89% 85% 71% 35%
2008 89% 84% 72% 38%
2009 92% 84% 75% 40%
2010 92% 85% 74% 43%
2011 94% 87% 77% 46%
2012 96% 91% 79% 54%
2013 97% 92% 81% 56%
2014 97% 92% 81% 57%
2015 97% 95% 82% 63%
2016 99% 96% 87% 64%

US Internet Usage By Race

Among whites, the internet usage grew from 53% in 2000 to 88% in 2016. The growth in internet usage is a lot more impressive among the Black population where the number grew from 38% to 85% during the same period. Pew Internet started studying Hispanics only from 2010 and the usage has grown from 71% then to 88% now.

White Black Hispanic
2000 53% 38%
2001 57% 40%
2002 60% 47%
2003 63% 50%
2004 65% 49%
2005 70% 55%
2006 72% 59%
2007 75% 64%
2008 75% 63%
2009 79% 69%
2010 78% 68% 71%
2011 81% 72% 72%
2012 84% 77% 79%
2013 85% 79% 80%
2014 85% 79% 81%
2015 87% 81% 82%
2016 88% 85% 88%

US Internet Usage By Gender

There is little to separate internet usage and adoption between male and female users in the United States. Back in 2000, 54% of adult males used the internet as compared to only 50% of women. The corresponding figure for 2016 is 89% for men and 86% for women.

Men Women
2000 54% 50%
2001 57% 53%
2002 61% 57%
2003 63% 60%
2004 66% 61%
2005 69% 67%
2006 72% 70%
2007 75% 73%
2008 74% 73%
2009 77% 75%
2010 77% 76%
2011 80% 78%
2012 83% 82%
2013 84% 84%
2014 84% 84%
2015 86% 86%
2016 89% 86%

US Internet Usage By Income

Higher incomes correlate with higher usage of the internet. In 2000, just over a third of people from households with less than $30,000 annual income had access to the internet. Today, the corresponding figure is over 79%. Not surprisingly, people from high household incomes have always had good access to the internet. In 2000, 81% of people with a household income of over $75,000 had access to the internet and today, that number is 98% – very few people from this income group still don’t access the internet.

Less than $30K $30K-$49K $50K-$75K $75K+
2000 34% 58% 72% 81%
2001 36% 60% 75% 84%
2002 39% 64% 76% 85%
2003 41% 66% 81% 87%
2004 44% 68% 83% 88%
2005 49% 73% 86% 92%
2006 52% 75% 86% 92%
2007 58% 74% 86% 93%
2008 54% 78% 88% 95%
2009 60% 79% 92% 95%
2010 61% 81% 88% 95%
2011 64% 85% 90% 97%
2012 70% 87% 93% 97%
2013 72% 86% 93% 97%
2014 74% 86% 93% 96%
2015 76% 86% 94% 97%
2016 79% 90% 95% 98%

US Internet Usage By Education Levels

Adult Americans who are not even high school graduates continue to struggle when it comes to internet usage. The latest figure shows the usage numbers in this category to be just about 68%. For perspective, less than one-fifths of this population used the internet at the start of the millennium. College graduates have always been most likely to use the internet. While 78% already had access to internet in 2000, nearly everyone today does.

Less than high school graduate High school graduate Some college College graduate
2000 19% 40% 67% 78%
2001 21% 43% 68% 81%
2002 24% 48% 73% 83%
2003 25% 51% 75% 85%
2004 27% 53% 76% 86%
2005 32% 58% 80% 89%
2006 37% 61% 83% 91%
2007 40% 65% 85% 92%
2008 38% 65% 86% 93%
2009 40% 68% 87% 94%
2010 41% 68% 87% 93%
2011 43% 72% 89% 94%
2012 52% 75% 91% 96%
2013 54% 75% 92% 96%
2014 55% 76% 91% 96%
2015 62% 78% 92% 96%
2016 68% 81% 94% 98%

US Internet Usage Among Urban/Rural Population

When it comes to internet usage, there is little to separate the urban areas from the suburbs. The internet usage among these locations have not deviated by more than a handful of poicnts at point in time. What’s more surprising though is that suburban areas have always had higher internet usage than urban areas. In 2000, urban areas had a 53% internet usage while this figure was 56% in the suburbs. In 2016, the corresponding figure for urban and suburban areas stood at 89% and 90% respectively.

Rural areas are a whole different story. Back in 2000, rural US had a 42% usage rate. Over time though, this has significantly improved and in 2016, the number stood at 81%.

Urban Suburban Rural
2000 53% 56% 42%
2001 55% 59% 46%
2002 61% 63% 49%
2003 64% 65% 51%
2004 65% 67% 53%
2005 69% 70% 60%
2006 71% 73% 62%
2007 75% 77% 63%
2008 75% 77% 63%
2009 73% 76% 68%
2010 78% 79% 69%
2011 80% 81% 73%
2012 84% 84% 75%
2013 86% 85% 78%
2014 85% 85% 79%
2015 87% 88% 78%
2016 89% 90% 81%