WASHINGTON (AP) – Oklahoma is one of 10 states where people are relying more and more on the cell phone – without having a land line at home.
The reason? Saving money.
America's abandonment of the land line phone in favor of the cell phone is accelerating, but nowhere has it gone further than in Arkansas and Mississippi. The states where the smallest proportion of people depend solely on wireless phones and no land lines: New Jersey and Rhode Island.
In eight states besides Arkansas and Mississippi -- mostly in the West -- at least 30 percent of adults rely strictly on cell phones. They are Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas.
About 35 percent of adults in Arkansas and Mississippi have cell phones and lack traditional wired telephones, according to estimates released Wednesday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In New Jersey and Rhode Island, that figure is only 13 percent.
"The answer's obvious. No one has money here," said John N. Daggle, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Mississippi who has had broad experience in the telecommunications industry.
"If they can do without a land line, they'll do it to save money."
That matches the conclusion of Stephen Blum berg, a senior CDC scientist and an author of the survey. Over the years, Blum berg has found that lower-income people are likelier than the better off to only have a cell phone.
Younger people and renters are also among the quickest to shed traditional land lines and use only wireless phones.
The latest state-by-state figures, which cover the 12 months through June 2010, are significant. They may mean that changes are needed in how some public opinion polls are conducted, Blum berg said.
As the use of cell phones has grown in recent years, major pollsters have routinely included cell phone users in the people they call randomly. The number of cell phone users they call reflects national cell phone use, but this study suggests that those numbers may need to be adjusted in states with especially high or low cell phone dependence, he said.
The exclusive use of cell phones has been growing steadily nationwide, hitting 27 percent of U.S. households in the first half of 2010, an eightfold increase in just six years.
Wednesday's figures showed that the proportion of adults using only cell phones has grown in all 50 states since 2007. Arkansas has had the greatest increase, with 15 percentage points, while New
Jersey's 7 percentage point growth brings up the rear.
"That's not surprising to me," Charles Gloving, a telecommunications analyst with the market research firm Forrester Research Inc., said of the coast-to-coast growth. He said people across the country are facing challenges with the weak economy.