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Typical American without a landline: A 27-year old Latino living in Columbus, Ohio

January 2nd, 2013 at 3:51 PM
US Landline Usage Study 2012

The statistical study compiled by NHIS about landline and mobile phone usage in American households is a pretty fascinating read. The number of U.S. adults with a mobile phone but no landline rose to 34% in the first half of 2012. That percentage is ticking up roughly two points every six months — a fairly rapid clip. The number of adults with a landline but no mobile phone plunged below 8% according to the study, which was picked up by GigaOm. These numbers may explain why some of the pollsters using landline-only calls in the last election ran off the rails so spectacularly. So many Americans can no longer be reached via a landline phone that polling methods simply must be adjusted.

Latinos are far more likely to have a mobile-only household (46%) than non-hispanic whites (30%) according to the study; this gap is surprisingly large. The number of 25- to 29-year-old adults living in a mobile-only household hit a remarkable 60% in the beginning of 2012. There is a sharp generational divide here: Fewer than 25% of 45- to 64-year-old Americans have dared to drop the landline.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Midwest is the region with the highest level of mobile-only households. Naturally, metropolitan households are more likely to depend solely on mobile phones than suburban or rural households. For the first time ever, women edged out men as the larger group of mobile-only adults.

Back in 2006, only 10% of adults lived in a mobile-only household. Americans are kicking their landline habit with remarkable alacrity considering that many homes with small children still feel that depending solely on a mobile phone is too risky.

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