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83% of American Millennials Believe Having a Cell Phone is Critical to Getting a Job

New Cell Phone Access Survey commissioned by TextNow highlights the cost barriers to owning a cell phone and the importance of democratizing communication

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — June 24, 2020 — According to the 2020 Cell Phone Access Survey published today by TextNow, the leading mobile app offering affordable cellular and WiFi-enabled phone service, 83% of American millennials, adults aged 18-34, believe having a cell phone is critical to getting a job, compared to 66% of those aged 45+.

The survey, conducted online by The Harris Poll and composed of over 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, found that 71% of Americans believe high costs for cell phones and data plans prevent many people from having access to cell phones, thus hindering access to employment. In addition, 92% of Americans believe that everyone should have access to a way to communicate with family and friends.

“Keeping people connected right now is tied more than ever to technology,” says TextNow CEO Derek Ting. “We have seen tremendous value in bringing Free Nationwide Talk & Text to millions of struggling Americans, ensuring everyone has access to a means of communication, whether it’s to be contacted by potential employers, to access to health services, or to stay in touch with loved ones.”  

Despite the consensus that Americans should have access to a means of communication, many still do not, citing costs as the primary inhibiting factor. Americans with a lower annual household income (less than $50,000) are more likely than those with household incomes of $100,000 or more to agree that cost barriers prevent Americans from having access to cell phones (76% vs. 66%), and more than two-thirds of Americans (67%) would be willing to use a refurbished phone to save money, according to the survey. Refurbished cell phone sales increased 12% via the TextNow website since the initial outbreak of coronavirus in March, highlighting an increased appetite for cost-saving options among customers.

With American unemployment rates climbing and a staggering effect of the coronavirus on mental health, communication rates are increasing. In March, TextNow reported its subscribers sent more than one billion text messages and used 15% more minutes from mid-March to mid-May compared to the previous two months, even with the number of calls remaining flat.

Additional findings in the survey breakdown opinions about cell phone use and necessity by demographic:

  • Parents of children under 18 are more likely than those without to say having a cell phone is critical to getting a job (79% vs. 71%)
  • Women are more likely than men to strongly agree that everyone should have access to a way to communicate with family/friends (68% vs. 61%)
  • Americans age 18-44 are more likely than those 55+ to say they would be willing to use a refurbished cell phone to save money (72% vs. 60%)

The Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of TextNow from February 25 – 27, 2020 among 2,002 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Nick de Pass.

About TextNow

Founded in 2009, TextNow is the largest provider of free phone service in the U.S. With offices in San Francisco, Waterloo and Portland, the TextNow app has been downloaded more than 200 million times globally, helping millions of people stay connected with a free phone number through its mobile app and ad-supported calling and texting over WiFi and the Nationwide Sprint Network. For more information, visit

Nick de Pass
[email protected]