Public Policy Institute

An Analysis of Utility Expenditures by Older Consumers

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 utilizes the latest available data (2013) from the Consumer Expenditure Survey and updates similar analyses from 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

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.   

  • As income levels declined, expenditures on electric utilities became a larger portion of overall utility expenditures for consumers aged 50+.  
  • Expenditures on natural gas increased dramatically between 2012 and 2013.

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

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