Blue Collar Occupations Moving Online

Home Internet access for blue-collar workers is growing faster than any other occupational group, surging 52 percent since March 2000, according to Nielsen//NetRatings. The growth rate for factory operators and laborers was more than double the rate of overall Internet growth, which grew 25 percent since last March.

Factory operators and laborers accounted for 9.5 million of the total Internet population who accessed the Web in March 2001, compared to only 6.2 million during March 2000. Surfers spent an average of 11 minutes online and viewed 698 pages during the month.

Homemakers were the second fastest growing group, jumping 49 percent in the past year to 2.5 million people. Internet users working in the service field grew 37 percent or 2.9 million, while workers in sales rose 37 percent to more than 5.6 million. Workers in the clerical or administrative field rounded out the top five. More than 5.5 million had access to the Web from home, rising 31 percent in the past year.

“The Internet was, at first, an elitist country club reserved only for individuals with select financial abilities and technical skills,” said Sean Kaldor, vice president of e-commerce at NetRatings. “Now, nearly every socioeconomic group is aggressively adopting the Web, having a fundamental impact on e-commerce, online advertising and more. This continues to open up new midmarket opportunities for mass merchandising, consumer packaged goods marketing, and value-conscious e-commerce.”

According to the Pew Internet Project, which tracked the growth of the Internet population by income level in 2000, those making less than $30,000 saw their level of Internet penetration rise from 28 percent in the spring to 38 percent in the fall of 2000. Those in the $30,000 to $50,000 range saw their Internet penetration rate increase from 50 percent to 64 percent.

Pew’s research also found slower growth rates among income groups that were earlier adopters of the Internet. Those in the $50,000 to $70,000 range saw their Internet penetration levels increase only from 5 percent, from 67 percent to 72 percent. The $75,000 and higher group experienced just a three percent increase to 82 percent from 79 percent. Still, at the end of 2000, 82 percent of those living in households with more than $75,000 in income had Internet access, compared to 38 percent of those in households earning less than $30,000.

Fastest Growing Occupational Groups Using Internet
Based on Head of Household (US, Home)
Occupation Unique Audience Percent
March 2000 March 2001
Factory Operator/Laborer 6,220,800 9,482,779 52%
Homemaker 1,632,756 2,426,776 49%
Service Worker 2,106,255 2,895,816 37%
Sales 4,171,692 5,608,095 34%
Clerical or Administrative 4,245,166 5,577,505 31%
Craftsman/Craftswoman 3,151,219 4,078,615 29%
Education 3,771,666 4,843,355 28%
Retired 6,596,334 8,463,125 28%
Military 1,306,205 1,672,232 28%
Self-Employed 7,429,040 9,176,883 24%
Professional 14,972,372 18,455,731 23%
Full Time Student 1,787,868 2,202,452 23%
Technical 7,192,290 8,789,414 22%
Executive or Managerial 11,910,955 14,397,510 21%
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings

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