February 19, 2001

The Internet ratings report for the month of February 2001 from Nielsen//NetRatings reveals that lower income Web surfers at home grew at a faster clip than any other income group, spiking 46 percent since February 2000. Surfers earning less than $25,000 a year accounted for 6.3 million of the total Internet population who accessed the Web in February 2001, compared to only 4.3 million during the same month last year.

The upper middle-class income group earning between $50,000-74,999, jumped 42 percent in the past year. More than 30 million Internet users belong to the upper middle-class income group, making it the largest segment of the online population. Users who earned between $25,000-49,999 grew 40 percent in the past year, representing more than 26 million people (see Table 1). Overall, the Internet grew 29 percent during the year.

"Like other forms of media, Internet access was first adopted by higher income groups who were willing to pay the cost of personal computers and monthly ISP service charges," said T. S. Kelly, director of Internet Media Strategies, NetRatings. "As the cost of personal computers and Internet access continues to drop, the doors have opened for lower income groups to tap into the Web. New Internet-based technologies in cell phones, handheld devices and video game consoles have introduced the Web to a broader demographic, helping to narrow the digital divide."

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