LendingTree survey finds nearly 34% of U.S. households struggle to buy food and medicine because of high utility bills

Utility Bills
Utility Bills(MGN)
Published: Dec. 4, 2022 at 10:01 AM CST
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(KTIV) Inflation has hit nearly every aspect of Americans’ lives, from grocery bills to housing costs. Energy costs are no exception. As utility rates rise across the U.S., consumers struggle to afford those bills.

A recent LendingTree survey on late bill payments found that consumers struggle to afford their utility expenses the second most (behind rent and mortgage). Now, we analyze U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey data to determine the percentage of consumers sacrificing necessities like food and medicine to pay for their energy costs. Here’s what we found.

Topping the list is Texas where nearly 45% percent of households struggle to pay energy bills without sacrificing food and medicine. Nebraska ranked 35th, 30%, South Dakota ranked 37th at 29% and Iowa ranked 43rd at 27%. Washington D.C. ranked 51st at 20%.

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Key findings

  • More than one-third (33.9%) of U.S. households say they reduced or skipped basic expenses, such as medicine or food, to pay an energy bill in the past 12 months. Nearly one-quarter (23.1%) of U.S. households report being unable to pay at least part of their energy bill in the past year.
  • Texas (44.8%) has the highest rate of households that say they reduced or skipped expenses to pay their energy bill. They are joined by fellow Southern states Mississippi (42.9%) and West Virginia (41.7%). In contrast, 20.3% of households in the District of Columbia say they reduced or skipped expenses to pay their energy bill, followed by Vermont (24.4%) and Delaware (24.6%).
  • West Virginia is the only state where at least 3 in 10 households say they couldn’t pay at least part of their energy bill in the past year. 30.2% report this in West Virginia. The District of Columbia is at the bottom at almost half that rate (15.2%).
  • Black households are most likely to report being unable to pay at least part of their energy bill. This is cited by 40.0% of Black households, versus 35.9% of Latino households, 17.7% of white households and 12.1% of Asian households.