One in Five U.S. Households Have No Landlines

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The swine flu outbreak has put the Centers for Disease Control in the news lately, but in addition to monitoring outbreaks of infectious diseases, the CDC also conducts the National Health Interview Survey, which tries to keep up with demographic trends and gather data that typically isn’t picked up in by the every-decade efforts of the Census Bureau. And the results of a new CDC survey highlight just how much mobile technology is shaping U.S. households: according to the CDC, one in five U.S. households now rely entirely on cell phones and have no landlines…and, for the first time, the number of cell-only households outnumbers the number of homes relying solely on landline phone service.

When the CDC started gathering phone data in 2003, just 3 percent of households surveyed were wireless only, with 43 percent relying on landlines. Now, 20 percent of homes surveyed are cell-only, with 17 percent relying exclusively on landlines. The increase in cell-only homes is a jump of nearly 3 percent in the last six months, perhaps a sign of user ditching traditional phone lines due to economic pressures brought on by the recession.

Some 15 percent of households surveyed had both landlines and cell phones, but receive few or no calls on their landlines, often because they’re dedicated to computers. If these households are added to the 20 percent of homes that are cell-only, roughly 35 percent of households—over one third—rely on cell phones as their primary means of communications.

Age and income are also related to living in a cell-only home: one third of people aged 18 to 24 live in cell-only homes. Also among those most likely to live in cell-only households: the poor, renters, southerners, midwesterners, Hispanics, and adults sharing a home with roommates or other unrelated adults.

The survey also found one U.S. household in 50 has no phone at all.

They survey conducted in-person interviews with members of 12,597 households from July through December 2008.

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