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An Analysis of 2011 Utility Expenditures by Older Consumers

An Analysis of 2011 Utility Expenditures by Older Consumers by PPI’s Neal Walters identifies trends in consumer spending on utilities and shows how these expenditures vary among consumers by age, income, household size, geographic location, and ethnicity. This analysis is based on the latest available data (2011) from the Consumer Expenditure Survey and updates similar analyses from 2009 and 2010.

Key Findings:

  • Spending on utilities comprised a larger percentage of overall expenditures for consumers age 50+ than for younger consumers. Expenditures were highest for the 65+ age group.
  • In 2011, utility expenditures as a percentage of average annual expenditures by older consumers increased from 2010, while expenditures by consumers under the age of 50 remained flat.
  • As income levels declined, expenditures on electric utilities became a larger portion of overall utility expenditures for consumers aged 50+.

  • The South had the highest overall utility expenditures as a percentage of annual expenditures for all age groups, while the West had the lowest.

  • Expenditures on utilities composed a larger percentage of overall expenditures for consumers aged 65+. Utility expenditures as a percentage of overall expenditures were highest for those aged 65+ and living alone.

  • Black consumers of all ages reporting the highest level of utility expenditures, followed by Hispanic consumers. 

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