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Older Consumers Spend More on Utilities Than Younger Consumers

A recently released AARP report examining utility expenditures by consumers shows that consumers 50 and older spend more on utilities than younger consumers. Expenditures were highest for the 65+ age group and lowest for the under 50 age group.

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“This report confirms that utility bills make up a large portion of monthly expenditures for older consumers,” said AARP Kansas Director Maren Turner. “That’s why AARP Kansas is fighting to protect consumers from unfair utility rate hikes. For those living on a fixed income, even a small increase is unaffordable.”

The report, “A Snapshot of Utility Expenditures by Older Consumers” identifies trends in consumer spending on utilities and shows how these expenditures vary among consumers by age, income, household size, and geographic location. The analysis is based on the latest available date (2009) from the Consumer Expenditure Survey.

Overall, expenditures on utilities comprised a larger percentage of overall expenditures for consumers aged 50+ who lived alone and were highest for those age 65+ who lived alone. According to the report, expenditures on electric utilities accounted for over a third of all utility expenditures by consumers age 50+ in 2009. Telephone utilities represented the second highest category of utility expenditures for this age group, followed by natural gas and water.

As income level declined, the report found, expenditures on electric utilities became a larger portion of overall utility expenditures for consumers aged 50+. Expenditures on electric utilities accounted for 43 percent of utility expenditures for consumers age 50+ below the poverty line, compared to 36 percent for those with incomes over 300+ percent of poverty.

According to the data, the southern region of the United States had the highest overall utility expenditures as a percentage of annual expenditures for all age groups, while the West had the lowest utility expenditures.

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