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African Americans heavy users of broadband job searches

07 Nov, 2013

At a Washington broadband technology forum today, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies released a groundbreaking new study on African American Internet use.

The study, Broadband and Jobs: African Americans Rely Heavily on Mobile Access and Social Networking in Job Search, revealed an unknown phenomenon:

“African Americans are more likely than the public at large to use the Internet to look for a job, and particularly when it comes to using mobile devices and social media for that purpose...”

Broadband and Jobs was written by John B. Horrigan, Ph.D. and was funded by the Joyce Foundation. In May 2013, the center surveyed 1,600 Americans, asking them how they use the Internet for job search. While most people still rely on personal contacts, “nearly one-third of those who have recently been without work cited the Internet as the most important ingredient to a successful job search.”

But it was African Americans who relied most heavily on the Internet. And especially that group “are relying on social media and on mobile devices for job search at higher rates than the general population.”

In fact, half of all African American Internet users said that “the Internet was very important to them in successfully finding a job, significantly higher than the 36% average for the entire sample.”

And these numbers carry over into smartphone use. Among people who use the Internet for job searching, different ethnic groups used smartphones to a greater or lesser extent. While 24% of white use smartphones, 36% of Latinos use them and nearly half – 47% – of African Americans use smartphones for job search.

Speed Matters believes that although these numbers are encouraging, there is a downside. To successfully apply for jobs online requires full broadband Internet access. People with only a smartphone are at a distinct disadvantage.

As the study notes “the survey has two major implications for policymakers and other stakeholders.”

“Efforts to improve people’s digital literacy and skills are likely to improve their capacity to use the Internet effectively for job search.


“Programs to improve digital literacy and skills would especially benefit low-income people and those with lower levels of educational attainment.”

Broadband and Jobs: African Americans Rely Heavily on Mobile Access and Social Networking in Job Search (Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, Oct. 2013)

Joint Center Study Shows African Americans are Biggest Users of Online Job Search (news release, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, Nov. 6, 2013)


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