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Public Policy Institute

An Analysis of 2012 Utility Expenditures by Older Consumers

  • Spending on utilities continues to comprise a larger percentage of overall expenditures for consumers age 50+ than for younger consumers--and expenditures remain highest for the 65+ age group.  In addition, phone and water charges are taking a bigger relative bite out of seniors’ expenditures.  Those are key findings from An Analysis of 2012 Utility Expenditures by Older Consumers by PPI’s Neal Walters which 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 utilizes the latest available data (2012) from the Consumer Expenditure Survey and updates similar analyses from 2009, 2010, and 2011.  Additional findings include:
  • At lower income levels, expenditures on electric utilities become 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.
  • Black consumers of all ages reporting the highest level of utility expenditures, followed by Hispanic consumers.  

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