Latinos have the least smartphone access in states with big rural areas
The percentage of Latinos in households without a smartphone is highest in states with large rural areas where cell service is spotty and broadband access is low, according to an Axios analysis of data from the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Institute.
Why it matters: Smartphones are one of the most essential communication devices in today's digital world, and households without them may fall significantly behind in obtaining information, emergency services and economic stability.
- Smartphones are also more likely to be the primary means of internet access for lower-income Latinos and Black Americans than for white people, according to the Pew Research Center.
By the numbers: New Mexico had the nation's highest percentage (12%) of Hispanics in households without a smartphone, according to the analysis of 2021 data from U.S. Census Bureau data. That's more than 120,000 Latinos.
- Wyoming came in second (11%), followed by Alabama (10%) and Louisiana (9%).
- Nationally, 7% of Latinos (4 million) live in households without a smartphone. The percentage of Latinos without smartphones is highest in the South and parts of the West.
New Mexico and Arkansas lead the nation in the percentage of Latinos (14% each) without any internet access, according to the study.
- South Dakota and South Carolina are tied for second at 13%.
- Nationally, more than 5 million Latinos (9% of the Latino population) lack basic internet. The percentage of Latinos without internet access is highest in the South.
Between the lines: The percentage of Latinos in households without a smartphone is still lower than that of Native Americans and Black Americans, the institute found.
- Roughly 17% of Native Americans and 11% of Black Americans live in households without smartphones.
- 20% of Native Americans and 11% of Black Americans live in households without basic Internet access.
- During the pandemic, Latino and Native American students without home internet access in New Mexico and Arizona were forced to sit in McDonald's parking lots or other places with wifi connections to do homework.
The intrigue: The Biden administration has said the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is helping address the lack of internet access in rural states to help Latinos.
- In New Mexico, 147,000 households have already been connected because of funding through the law, according to the administration, and the state will get at least $100 million "to help ensure high-speed internet coverage across the state."
- The new Affordable Connectivity Program also cuts internet bills by up to $30 per month, or $75 for households on tribal lands, according to the White House.
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