Quarter of Minn. households are now cellphone only
Minneapolis (AP) — Minnesota is in the middle of the pack when it comes to abandoning landline telephones in favor of cellphones.
Estimates released Wednesday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are that about 24 percent of adults nationally live in wireless-only households. For Minnesota, the estimate is about 25 percent, within the survey's margin of error. Adults living in the Twin Cities metro area are somewhat more likely to have cut the cord than adults in the rest of Minnesota.
Only about 9 percent of Minnesota adults still live in landline-only households. Homes in Greater Minnesota are more likely to be landline only than those in the metro area.
The CDC researchers say lower-income people are likelier than the better off to have only a cellphone.
About 35 percent of adults in Arkansas and Mississippi have cellphones and lack traditional wired telephones. In New Jersey and Rhode Island, that figure is only 13 percent.
"The answer's obvious. No one has money here," said John N. Daigle, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Mississippi who has had broad experience in the telecommunications industry. "If they can do without a landline, they'll do it to save money."
That matches the conclusion of Stephen Blumberg, a senior CDC scientist and an author of the survey. Over the years, Blumberg has found that lower-income people are likelier than the better off to only have a cellphone. Younger people and renters are also among the quickest to shed traditional landlines and use only wireless phones.
"They're not a young state and they're a wealthy state, and that's keeping New Jersey at the bottom of the list" of states whose residents rely exclusively on cellphones, Blumberg said.
The latest state-by-state figures, which cover the 12 months through June 2010, are significant. They may mean that changes are needed in how some public opinion polls are conducted, Blumberg said.
As the use of cellphones has grown in recent years, major pollsters have routinely included cellphone users in the people they call randomly. The number of cellphone users they call reflects national cellphone use, but this study suggests that those numbers may need to be adjusted in states with especially high or low cellphone dependence, he said.
The estimates are based largely on data from the National Health Interview Survey, conducted by the CDC, in which interviews with 109,187 households have been conducted over the past 3 1/2 years.
Also used are statistics from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey between 2006 and 2009 and information from listed telephone directories. The figures are then blended to produce a single estimate.
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