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Over Twenty Million Households Struggle to Pay Energy Bills, It Will Get Worse

Over 20 million households are behind over $23 billion on their utility bills as we head into a blisteringly hot summer.
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Data from Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey, April 27 to May 9, 2022

Data from Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey, April 27 to May 9, 2022

Struggling to Pay Bills 

According to Mark Wolfe, the executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors' Association (NEADA ) many families are facing potential power shutoffs if they cannot pay their overdue home energy bills. 

"More than 20 million families are currently behind on their utility bills, owing about $23 billion, up from about $10.5 billion at the end of 2019,"  Wolfe said to CNN.

Census Department Household Pulse Survey

Let's take a look at Week 45 Household Pulse Survey: April 27 - May 9, 2022 for more data on ability to pay rent.

The lead chart is from Household Pulse data.

Household Pulse Survey Methodology

  • There are lots of issues with the data and the numbers are misleading. 
  • The Census Bureau surveys people older than 18, not just households, so many households will be double counted.
  • As of 2021 there are about 126 million households but the Census Department surveyed over 252 million people.
  • Huge numbers of people did not respond. I suspect lower educated persons and those struggling would be less likely to respond. 

I went to compare this May to a year ago but the Census Department did not ask that question a year ago.

The Census Department did ask that question in September of 2021 and numbers are generally up by 2 million or so across the board. However, comparing May to September is a bit questionable.  

Finally, the Census Department cautions "These data are experimental. Users should take caution using estimates based on subpopulations of the data – sample sizes may be small and the standard errors may be large."

With those caveats in mind, here are some other charts from Week 45. 

Household Keeping Temperature at Unsafe Level

Data from Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey, April 27 to May 9, 2022

Data from Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey, April 27 to May 9, 2022

Household Unable to Pay Full Energy Bill 

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Data from Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey, April 27 to May 9, 2022

Data from Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey, April 27 to May 9, 2022

Given extreme ambiguities in the data collection by the Census Department, all we can reasonably assume is the numbers of people struggling with energy bills is well over 20 million and rising rapidly.

Summer of Discontent Coming

Things will get worse in July heat with air conditioning bills and again in winter with the price of natural gas and heating oil skyrocketing.

A huge summer of discontent is on the way as the CPI is at a 40-year high and rising.

Price of Gas Topped $5.00 Today

Meanwhile, the average price of gasoline topped $5 today. Yesterday, I commented Average Gas Price Just a Penny Shy of $5.00 a Gallon

CPI at 40-Year High 

In case you missed it, please see Why Did Economists Blow the CPI Forecast So Badly This Month?

Unfortunately, higher rent prices are baked in the cake and that's over 31 percent of the CPI.

This post originated at MishTalk.Com.

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