In the first six months of 2010, more than one of every four US households (26.6%) did not have a landline telephone but did have at least one wireless telephone, according to preliminary estimates from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). Approximately 25% of all adults (or about 57 million adults) lived in households with only wireless telephones; 29% of all children (or more than 21 million children) lived in households with only wireless telephones.
Percentage of Wireless-only Households Steadily Rises
The percentage of households that are wireless-only has been steadily increasing. The 2.1-percentage-point increase during the last six months of 2009 through the first six months of 2010 is similar to the 1.8-percentage-point increase observed from the first six months of 2009 through the last six months of 2009 and to the 2.5-percentage-point increase observed from the last six months of 2008 through the first six months of 2009.
The percentage of adults living in wireless-only households has also been increasing steadily in the past few years. During the first six months of 2010, one of every four adults lived in wireless-only households. One year before that (i.e., during the first six months of 2009), one of every five adults lived in wireless-only households. And two years before that (i.e., during the first six months of 2007), only one of every eight adults lived in wireless-only households.
The percentage of children living in wireless-only households is also growing. The 3.1-percentage-point increase from the last six months of 2009 is not as large as the 4.6-percentage-point increase from the first six months of 2009 to the last six months of 2009. However, these increases represent the two largest six-month increases observed since 2003, when NHIS began collecting data on wireless-only households.
Percentages of Adults, Kids Without Phone Service Remains Low
The percentages of adults and children living without any telephone service have remained relatively unchanged during the past 3 years. Approximately 2% of households had no telephone service (neither wireless nor landline). Nearly 4 million adults (1.7%) and 1.2 million children (1.7%) lived in these households.
Younger Adults More Likely to Lack Landline
More than half of adults aged 25-29 years (about 51%) lived in households with only wireless telephones. This is the first time that the number of adults in wireless-only households has exceeded the number of adults in landline households in any age range examined.
Two in five adults (about 40%) aged 18-24 years or 30-34 years lived in households with only wireless telephones. As age increased from 35 years, the percentage of adults living in households with only wireless telephones decreased: 27.% for adults aged 35-44; 17% for adults aged 45-64; and 5% for adults aged 65 and older.
Interestingly, more than two in three adults living only with unrelated adult roommates (about 69%) were in households with only wireless telephones. This is the highest prevalence rate for any of the population subgroups examined.
Men, Poor Also More Likely to Lack Landline
Men (26%) were more likely than women (24%) to be living in households with only wireless telephones. In addition, adults living in poverty (39%) and adults living near poverty (33%) were more likely than higher-income adults (22%) to be living in households with only wireless telephones.
Hispanics Have Most Living in Wireless-only Households
Hispanic adults (35%) were more likely than non-Hispanic white adults (23%) or non-Hispanic black adults (28.5%) to be living in households with only wireless telephones.
Furthermore, adults living in the Midwest (27%), South (29%), and West (23.5%) were more likely than adults living in the Northeast (16%) to be living in households with only wireless telephones.
Young Adults Lead Mobile App Use
Perhaps reflecting their increasing participation in wireless-only households, a recent Pew Research survey found that nine in 10 18-to-29 year olds own a cell phone, and these young cell owners are significantly more likely than those in other age groups to engage in a variety of mobile data applications.
Usage rates of mobile applications declined chronologically across four major age demographics for all apps which were tracked. For example, 95% of 18-to-29-year-old cell phone owners send and receive text messages, compared to 82% of 30-to-49-year-olds, 57% of 50-to-64-year-olds, and 19% of 65 and older.
About the Data: In May and December of each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) releases selected estimates of telephone coverage for the civilian non-institutionalized U.S. population based on data from NHIS, along with comparable estimates from NHIS for the previous three years. The estimates are based on in-person interviews that NHIS conducts continuously throughout the year to collect information on health status, health-related behaviors, and health care utilization. The survey also includes information about household telephones and whether anyone in the household has a wireless telephone.