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Americans Spent 98.65% on Everything Else

My bad. It's been over a week since the U.S. Department of Commerce published April's data on the economy. Just got to our analysis and, drum roll please, residential electric bills were 1.35 percent of Americans' consumption expenditures.

Is 1.35 percent good or bad you ask. Short answer: definitely good. 

But you know I'm not a short answer guy. 

This April was the nineteenth April since and including the year 2000. Electric bills as a percent of expenditures have been as high as 1.64, in April 2009. Six other times this century, they were higher than 1.52, in April 2003, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012. 

Just four times have electric bills as a percent of expenditures been as low as the mid 1.3's. The first time was April 2005, before Gulf hurricanes drove up natural gas prices.

The other three times? The last three years, April 2016, 2017, 2018.

April 2016 was the lowest. In that month, electric bills were 1.34 percent of expenditures. April 2017 was 1.36 percent. This April it was 1.35. So definitely good historically.

Indeed, from April 2009 to this April, Americans' consumption expenditures increased 42.8 percent. But our electric bills increased only 17.6 percent.

April 2009 was during the depths of the depression. But the trend holds up for other year to year comparisons. For example, from April 2011 to this April, Americans' consumption expenditures increased 30.9 percent. Our electric bills increased only 13.7 percent. 

Here's another perspective. Before December 2014, there were just six months when electric bills were at or below 1.35 percent of expenditures. In any month, January through December. In any year, 1959 through 2014. 

But since and including December 2014, electric bills have been at or below this low percent in seventeen of the forty-one months. That's definitely good.

One more point. When Americans spend 1.35 percent of their expenditures on electric bills, they're spending 98.65 percent on everything else, from toothpaste to tattoos to tires to travel. For sure, that's good.


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Steve Mitnick, Editor-in-Chief, Public Utilities Fortnightly, and President, Lines Up, Inc.

E-mail me: mitnick@fortnightly.com