Pew report shows African Americans regard high speed internet as an equalizing advantage

While broadband adoption for Americans finally slowed over all last year after double-digit growth each of the previous five years, with two-thirds now connected, usage among African-Americans jumped 22 percent this year over 2009, according to a Pew report.

In every major category, from job opportunities to acquiring health information, more African-American and Hispanic adults regard lack of broadband access as “a major disadvantage” than whites do. Nearly half of African-Americans believe expanding broadband access should be a top government priority, compared with just under two-fifths of whites.

The average broadband user pays $41.18 monthly for service. About one in five adults never use the Internet, with roughly half of nonusers citing its irrelevance to their lives. Three in five say they would need assistance to go online.

“Although the rise in home broadband usage among African-Americans seems surprising in light of the current recession,” said Aaron Smith, senior research specialist at Pew, the fact that a greater percentage of African-Americans say lack of broadband access is a disadvantage. particularly for obtaining career information, “speaks to a recognition within the African-American community that digital connectivity is essential, even — and perhaps especially — during hard economic times.” TEDDY WAYNE

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