Cell Phone-Only Households Increase

The percent of households with cell-only phone service has increased substantially according to recent survey results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Now, more than one in four U.S. households (26.6 percent) has only wireless telephone connections, an increase of 2.1 percent over 2009. During the past 36 months the share of U.S. households with cell phone only service has nearly doubled from 13.6 percent.

The results highlight that traditionally difficult to reach groups, young people, the low income and people of color, will be more difficult to reach by phone for market and public opinion researchers. The CDC study found:

  • For the first time, a majority of people in a demographic group have cell phone only service. Among those age 25 to 29 years, 51 percent do not have landlines.
  • People with the lowest incomes (39 percent cell only) are less likely to have landlines than those with higher incomes (22 percent cell only).
  • Hispanics (35 percent cell only) and blacks (29 percent cell only) are less likely to have landlines than whites (23 percent).

Other results include:

  • The percentage of households with cell phone only service is highest in the South (29.3 percent), followed by the Midwest (26.6 percent) and West (23.5 percent) regions. Those living in the Northeast (15.8 percent) have the lowest share of cell phone-only households. (Results by state were not available.)
  • Men (26.2 percent) are more likely to live in homes with cell only service than women (23.7 percent).

These behavioral changes will affect research projects. Historically, research has found little to no attitudinal differences between cell only users and those with both cell and landline phone service. However, Pew Research found differences in voter preference between landline and cell phone interviews during the 2010 general election.

As people become increasingly difficult to reach by landline, how research is conducted and the costs will be impacted.

Photo by Ricky Romero Some rights reserved.