Two of out Five US Households Have Only Wireless Phones

A growing number of Americans are cutting the telephone cord, and going wireless.

Forty one percent of US households (or about two in five) did not have a landline telephone in the second half of 2013, according to a report by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). This is an increase of 1.6 percentage points since the first half of 2013 and 2.8 percentage points since the second half of 2012.

These increases, however, are smaller than observed in previous years, suggesting that while wireless-only households continue to increase the growth may be slowing.

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From 2011 through 2012 there was a 4.2 percentage point increase in households with only wireless telephones. There was a 4.3 percentage point increase from 2010 through 2011, and there was a 5.2 percentage point increase from 2009 to 2010.

The 2013 results do still show some interesting findings across various demographics.

The center found that 39.1 percent of all adults and 47.1 percent of all children lived in wireless-only households in the second half of 2013.

Young adults were more likely than other age groups to go the wireless route. Nearly two-thirds (65.7 percent) of adults ages 25-29 lived in wireless-only households while 53 percent of adults ages 18-24 and 59.7 percent of adults 30-34 lived in wireless-only households.

The percentages of those in wireless-only households decreased as age increased after 35. Less than half (47.8 percent) of adults ages 35-44 lives in wireless-only households while 31.4 percent of adults 45-64 and 13.6 percent of adults 65 and over lived in wireless-only households.

Renters were also more likely than homeowners to have wireless-only households. About three in five (61.7 percent) adults living in rented homes had only wireless telephones, more than twice the rate of 28.5 percent of adults living in a home owned by a household member.

Most poor households (56.2 percent) had no landlines, compared to 36.6 percent of higher income households.

Hispanics were more likely than other groups to live in households with no landlines. There were 53.1 percent of Hispanic adults living in wireless-only households compared to 35.1 percent of black adults and 35.1 percent of white adults.

More men (40.4 percent) tended to live in households with only wireless telephones than women (37.9 percent).

In terms of regional differences, people in the Northeast were least likely to cut the telephone cord while people in the Midwest led all other areas of the country when it came to leaving traditional telephones behind.

In the Midwest, 43.7 percent of adults lived in wireless-only households compared to 41.9 percent in the South, 41.2 percent in the West, and 24.9 percent in the Northeast.

The NCHS report looked at information from July-December 2013. The findings were based on data from the National Health Interview Survey, which uses in-person interviews conducted continuously throughout the year to collect information on health status, health-related behaviors, and health care access and utilization. Information about household telephones is part of that survey. NCHS is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.