According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the digital economy (goods and services that are primarily digital) accounted for 6.5% of the U.S. economy ($1.2 trillion) in 2016. In 2015, global e-commerce sales were some $25.3 trillion, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Imagine what the possibilities would be if everyone had access to high-speed internet, the digital skills, and the technology necessary to contribute to such an enormous marketplace.
According to the Pew Research Center, in 2018 89% of Americans used the internet in 2018. Globally, however, internet use is just 49%, since 81% of people in developed nations use the internet, compared to just 41.3% in developing nations and 17.5% in least developed countries (LDCs), according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
However, both in the U.S. and globally, differences in quality of access vary greatly along socioeconomic lines.
Globally, we see incredible disparities along the lines of age, with 70.6% of people between 15-24 accessing the internet, compared to just 48% of the total world population.
In the U.S., fully 47% of people over the age of 50 do not use the internet, according to Pew:
Income & Geography
Technology access also varies by income and geography, with lower income people lacking access to both productive devices as well has high speed internet access at home.
Rural communities in the U.S. lag the rest of the nation in fixed broadband penetration. The effects of this disparity are particularly evident on Tribal Lands in rural areas where 68% of Americans lack access to to fixed broadband, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Globally, the ITU reports extreme disparities in technology access in LDCs.
In the U.S., just 65% of Americans with less than a high school education use the internet.
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U.S. Adults with a disability report significant disparities in their rate of technology usage:
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These disparities represent untapped potential from millions of people. We help our clients advocate for policies that promote innovation from all walks of life and around the globe.