Digital Divide in Minnesota on MPR

Minnesota Public Radio has a nice story running today about the digital divide in Minnesota. The story quotes a recent report by Pew Internet & American Life that indicates that 70 percent of US adults are online. However the more telling statistic is that 90 percent of adults with an income of more than $75,000 a year are online while only 55 percent of those making less than $30,000.

The story demonstrates that computer skills and access to the Internet are roadblocks for individuals looking for jobs. (We talked about lack of broadband and the impact on economic development in rural areas in an earlier blog.)

The story gets even better (from the broadband perspective) when MPR interviews Mike Wassenaar, Executive Director of the Saint Paul Neighborhood Network. He points out that “closing the divide is about more than just basic computer skills, it’s about providing affordable broadband Internet access.”

They go on to talk about what’s happening to increase access in the Twin Cities. I might also give a shout to the rural communities. Here are some of the stats I found:

Earlier this year, the Center for Rural Policy & Development reported that 60 percent of rural Minnesota is online and 40 percent uses broadband.

At the end of 2005, Pew reported that 24 percent of US adults in rural areas had broadband access at home – compared with 39 percent in urban and suburban areas.

In 2003, another Pew Report said that 52 percent of rural residents used the Internet (not necessarily broadband) as opposed to 67 percent of urban residents and 66 of suburban residents.

The same report offered a couple of reasons for the difference in use: (1) Rural residents are older and less wealthy
Fewer choices; (2) Rural users and newer users (but enthusiastic adopters); and (3) Rural users more often depend on locations other than work and home to go online.

I tried a while back to get a good count on what was going on broadband-wise in Minnesota communities. I feel like being in Dublin for the holidays might mean I have some extra time in the next couple of weeks (think of me while you’re going to parties and fun holiday lunches) so I’ll see if I can’t do better with that.

This entry was posted in MN, Research, Rural by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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