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The three U.S. states with the largest populations are California, Texas and New York. So you might think that given sheer geographic area, the population density of metropolitan centers such as New York City, Los Angeles and Houston, or the presence of Silicon Valley that one of these states would have the greatest proportion of internet users. However, that isn’t the case.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, you won’t find the most connected people on the coasts, or deep in the heart of Texas, but largely in the Midwest. Just under three-quarters of U.S. households were online in 2015. But the most connected state isn’t located on one of the coasts — it’s in the heart of the Midwest.
Read on for the top 10 states with the highest concentrations of internet users, as well as stats that reveal how residents are accessing and utilizing the web.
In 2015, 79.5 percent of Iowans, or 2,355,765 households, used the internet. In 1998, 996,217 (then 36.3 percent) households were online.
In Iowa, 30.5 percent of internet users spend time online searching for job opportunities.
In 2015, 80 percent of Wyoming residents, or 439,874 households, used the internet. In 1998, 190,823 (then 39.9 percent) households were online.
In Wyoming, 90.6 percent of internet users check email, whereas 90.9 percent of U.S. citizens overall do so.
In 2015, 80.5 percent of Oregon residents, or 3,072,20 households, used the internet. In 1998, 1,356,308 households (then 41.2 percent) were online.
Oregon has the highest proportion of laptop computer internet users of any state.
In 2015, 80.6 percent of Utah residents, or 2,252,565 households, used the internet. In 1998, 812,717 (then 41 percent) households were online.
In 2015, 81.3 percent of Illinois residents, or 9,946,149 households, used the internet. In 1998, 3,715,059 (then 32.7 percent) households were online.
Of the 10 states with the greatest proportions of internet users, Illinois has the highest rate of desktop computer internet use (41.3 percent). In the nation as a whole, 34.3 percent of internet users access the web via a desktop computer.
In 2015, 81.4 percent of Idaho residents, or 1,276,770 households, used the internet. In 1998, 466,151 (then 37.5 percent) households were online.
Nearly three-quarters of internet users in Idaho use the web to shop or make reservations.
4. New Hampshire
In 2015, 82.3 percent of New Hampshire residents, or 1,054,070 households, used the internet. In 1998, 520,158 (then 44.2 percent) households were online.
In New Hampshire, 23.4 percent of internet users take classes or participate in job training online.
In 2015, 82.5 percent of Wisconsinites, or 4,539,764 households, used the internet. In 1998, 1,735,721 (then 35.6 percent) households were online.
After Rhode Island, Wisconsin is the state with the greatest proportion of internet users who say that affordability is the most important aspect of home internet service (as opposed to reliability, service speed, mobility, data cap or customer service).
In 2015, 82.5 percent of Vermont residents, or 499,790 households, used the internet. In 1998, 242,734 (then 42.7 percent) households were online.
Vermont has the second-highest rate of internet usage by residents ages 15 and up (84.2 percent), behind Wisconsin (84.6 percent).
In 2015, 83.1 percent of Minnesotans, or 4,307,850 households, used the internet. In 1998, 1,889,017 (then 41.5 percent) households were online.
A greater proportion of internet users look up health insurance info or communicate with a doctor online in Minnesota than in any of the other states in the top 10. Minnesota is second to Washington state in this usage category (38.9 percent of people in Washington state access health records online, compared with 37.9 percent in Minnesota).