Who is Hit Hardest by Rising Utility Bills?

By Lisa Camooso Miller

More than half of U.S. households now devote more than 20 percent of their family budget toward energy costs. Simply put—that’s a lot of money.

According to a study we commissioned this year, the 60 million American households that earn less than $50,000 per year—that’s half of all U.S. families—will devote an estimated 21 percent of their incomes to energy, compared to just 12 percent in 2001.

In a recovering economy, any unforeseen increase in utilities can be hard for families to bear. From the study, we were able to get a better idea of which demographics are hit hardest by these price increases.

  • The poor. Energy cost burdens are the hardest on the poorest families. For families earning less than $10,000 a year, 78 percent of their after-tax incomes goes to energy bills.
  • Lower and fixed-income seniors. This demographic are among the most vulnerable to energy price increases. With food, medical and other necessities, household budgets are stretched thin when energy prices dramatically increase.
  • Minority families. More than 60 percent of Black and Hispanic families had pre-tax household incomes below the national average in 2010.

Coal can provide stable, affordable energy. States that use more coal to generate electricity have lower electricity rates, but regulations that stifle the coal-fueled power industry will mean more electricity rate increases, high bills and more accommodating budgets across the country. For more facts about electricity rates, regulations and coal-fueled electricity, follow us on Facebook.