Nov 21, 2023 - News

Latinos lack internet access in Arkansas

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Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Arkansas and New Mexico lead the nation in percentage of Latinos with no internet access, according to data from the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Institute.

  • 14% of Latinos in our state — or about 32,000 people — lack internet access, the study found.
  • Meanwhile, Arkansas has the 11th-highest percentage of Latinos in households without a smartphone at 11%.

Why it matters: Internet access is essential for information, emergency and health care services, as well as education and work opportunities. Smartphones are one of the most important communication devices in today's digital world, and households without them may fall significantly behind.

  • 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: Nationally, more than 5 million Latinos (9% of the Latino population) lack basic internet.

The big picture: 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, Axios' Russell Contreras writes.

  • New Mexico had the nation's highest percentage (12%) of Hispanics in households without a smartphone, according to the analysis of 2021 data from the U.S. Census Bureau. That's more than 120,000 people.
  • The percentage of Latinos without smartphones is greatest in the South and parts of the West.

Between the lines: The percentage of Latinos in households without a smartphone is still less than that of Native Americans and the same as 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.

The intrigue: The Biden administration has said the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is helping address the lack of internet access in rural states.

  • 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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