Business digest: 15% in U.S. don’t use Internet, study finds

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Posted: Thursday, September 26, 2013 12:00 am

Fifteen percent of Americans — about 1 in 7 — don't use the Internet at all, a new survey found. And most of them prefer it that way. The study made public Wednesday by the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project also found that an additional 9 percent of U.S. adults use the Internet only when they are not at home. The report says adults with lower levels of income and education, as well as blacks and Hispanics, are significantly more likely to rely on Internet access outside of their home. Of the people who don't go online, only 8 percent want to. The rest say they are not interested.

Americans stepped up purchases of new homes in August after cutting back in July, suggesting that higher mortgage rates may not be slowing the housing recovery. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that sales of new homes increased 7.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 421,000. That comes after sales plunged 14.1 percent in July to a 390,000 annual rate. New-homes sales were 12.6 percent higher in August than a year ago. The pace remains well below the 700,000 that is considered consistent with a healthy market.

Orders for durable goods, items expected to last at least three years, increased 0.1 percent in August, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That comes after orders plummeted 8.1 percent in July, which was largely because of a steep drop in volatile commercial aircraft orders. Even with the gain, business spending on factory goods may not be strong enough to accelerate economic growth in the July-September quarter.

U.S. household net worth jumped $1.3 trillion in the spring, fueled by gains in home and stock values. The Federal Reserve says net worth rose to $74.8 trillion in the April-June quarter, up 1.8 percent from the first quarter. Home prices and stock markets have risen further since then, suggesting that Americans' net worth is now even higher.

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