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40% of Black households can’t afford utility bills amid inflation

by Deon Osborne, Associate Editor
40% of Black households can’t afford utility bills amid inflation
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Roughly 40% of Black households reported being unable to pay at least part of their energy bill over the past year amid high inflation, according to a recent study from Lending Tree.

According to the study, which analyzed U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey data, Black households were most likely to report having trouble paying energy bills. Roughly 36% of Latinx households, 18% of white households, and 12% of Asian households reported having the same issues.

The report comes amid a year of record high inflation. Notably, recent  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data found that inflation is falling from a high of 8.2% to 7.7% compared to this time last year.

Yet, despite signs the economy is moving in a positive direction, the high costs of living expenses is taking a severe toll on families across the country.

“Inflation has hit a lot of people really hard. It’s hit people in some of the most essential expenses in life. Things that people can’t avoid paying for,” Lending Tree Chief Credit Analyst Matt Schulz told The Black Wall Street Times.

Lending Tree study shows trouble for Black households paying energy bills

Lending Tree analyzes people’s behaviors and perceptions around the economy.

“It’s important, especially as we go into the winter, when costs for a lot of people will spike, to help people get a better understanding of where things stand,” Schulz added.

In an uneven economy full of racial disparities, Black and Latinx households already earn less than their white counterparts and hold much less wealth, according to data from the Federal Reserve. 

The recent report illustrates how dips in the economy impact the most marginalized communities hardest.

In terms of states, Oklahoma ranked number four among states with households that reduced basic expenses in order to pay energy bills. Its joined by Alabama, West Virginia, Mississippi and Texas among the top five states whose residents had to rob Peter to pay Paul.

“Inflation is having a real impact on people’s lives”

“Today’s report shows that we are making progress on bringing inflation down, without giving up all of the progress we have made on economic growth and job creation,” the White House stated in a press release on Thursday.

With an ongoing Russian war against Ukraine driving up international prices, along with the impacts from the pandemic, the Biden Administration has attempted to eliminate the high inflation rates without causing a rise in unemployment.

“We need to ease these price pressures. And what we’d really like to see happen is for those pressures to come down without unemployment going up much at all,” White House economist Jared Bernstein told The Black Wall Street Times in October.

Black unemployment has continued to fall in recent months, but the new study from Lending Tree shows that legislative leaders will need to continue addressing the financial crisis.

“What I hope that folks in power understand is that inflation isn’t just about data and about theory. Inflation is having a real impact on people’s lives everyday and forcing them to make difficult decisions and sacrifices on a regular basis around their own finances,” Schulz said.

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