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Census Survey: Majority Use Web

More than half of all Americans use the Internet, according to a Commerce Department report.

The figures are part of “A Nation Online,” a study using the September 2001 U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey data to track Internet use in the United States.

The study said that more than 2 million people a month go online for the first time.

Young people led the nation in Internet activity with 90 percent of children ages 5 to 17 using the Internet at home and school.

The census surveyed 57,000 households and 137,000 individuals nationwide. Among the findings:

· In September 2001, 143 million Americans (about 54 percent of the population) used the Internet, a 26 million increase in 13 months. In September 2001, 174 million people (66 percent) in the United States used computers.

· Internet use is rising across all economic and racial groups. From December 1998 to September 2001, Internet use by individuals in the lowest-income households (those earning less than $15,000 per year) grew 25 percent annually. Use among those in the highest-income households (those earning $75,000 or more) grew from a higher base but at a slower 11 percent annual rate. From August 2000 to September 2001, Internet use among blacks and Hispanics grew 33 percent and 30 percent annually, respectively. Whites and Asian American/Pacific Islanders experienced annual growth rates of about 20 percent in that period. The growth rate among households for single mothers with children was 29 percent, the highest among different types of households.

· Forty-five percent of the population uses e-mail, up from 35 percent in 2000.

· Thirty-six percent of Americans use the Internet to search for product and service information, up from 26 percent in 2000.

· Among Internet users, 39 percent make online purchases and 8.1 percent bank online. Online shopping is particularly common among users ages 25 to 34 (53 percent) and those 35 to 44 (51.2 percent). Those 55 and older were least likely to use the Internet in many of the surveyed categories, such as playing games, job searching, chat rooms or list servs, viewing television or movies, listening to the radio or trading online. But this age group was more likely (42.7 percent) than any other to check health information online. Those 55 and older use e-mail as much as any other adult age group.

The report can be downloaded at www.commerce.gov.

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