WASHINGTON (AP) - America's abandonment of the landline phone in favor of the cellphone 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 landlines: New Jersey and Rhode Island.
About 35 percent of adults in Arkansas and Mississippi have cellphones and lack traditional wired telephones, according to estimates released April 20 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. Daigle, 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 landline, they'll do it to save money."
That matches the conclusion of Stephen Blumberg, a senior CDC scientist and an author of the survey. Over the years, Blumberg has found that lower-income people are likelier than the better off to have only a cellphone. Younger people and renters are also among the quickest to shed traditional landlines and use only wireless phones.
The latest state-by-state figures cover the 12 months through June 2010.
In eight states besides Arkansas and Mississippi - mostly in the West - at least 30 percent of adults rely strictly on cellphones. They are Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas.
At the low end, only six states join New Jersey and Rhode Island in having less than 17 percent of adults use only cells: Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and South Dakota. All but one are in the East.
The exclusive use of cellphones 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.
The figures showed that the proportion of adults using only cellphones 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.
Other measurements also highlight how widespread people's dependence on cellphones has become. The proportion of adults living in households with cellphones - including those that also have landlines - range from 92 percent in Iowa to 48 percent in South Dakota.