Protecting Our Community

In some Florida cities, the poor spend 22% of their income on utilities alone

Out Of Control Prices

No one should have to “skip a meal” to pay their utility bill. But for thousands, this is a choice they make every day. When 22% of your paycheck is budgeted so you can keep the lights on, something is wrong.

Rising Costs In Marginalized Communities

In Florida's Minority Communities:

  • 22% of income is spent on utilities

  • 25% of income is spent on transportation

Marginalized communities are affected more by the rising cost of living than anyone else. The low incomes of these communities result in a higher portion of their income on food, energy, and rent. The plight of these communities cannot be understated and needs to be acted upon. The Commissioner can help these communities by ending the economic warfare of corporations and helping our citizens who were hurt the most.

Price Gouging Hurts Poorer Floridians the Hardest

The increase in commodities due to supply-chain disruptions and corporate greed affects marginalized communities harder than most. While many in the affluent sectors of society may only see small hikes in prices, paycheck-to-paycheck families see a huge decrease in their already small disposable income. With Florida becoming the most expensive state to live in, the price gouging across many industries from gas, food, and rent, inflation has hit Florida residents hard. [1]

 

In 2019, the median household income was $59,227; however, as of late, this number has been predicted to be lower. [2] Wages are not keeping up with the cost of living in Florida. Breaking down expected expenses for a family of four, there is an expected annual amount of $13,896 spent just on transportation fees covering gas, insurance, maintenance, and public transportation. The recommended minimum amount spent on food per month per person is between $300 to $450, depending on where you reside. These two necessary aspects of living take up approximately $15,000 of the annual income alone. [3]

 

When taking a look at marginalized family income, such as the Black/African American community, the median annual income in 2022 is much lower at $48,998. [4] This figure indicates that these families have even less available income to spend on necessary commodities. In 2022 almost 10% of families in Florida live below the poverty line, with 6% being families with children. [5] March 2022 saw an 8.5% increase in consumer prices from March 2021 on all items; broken down by industry, there was an 8.8% increase in food price and an astonishing 32% increase in energy costs. [6] These increases disproportionately affect communities that are underpaid and underrepresented, the poor, women, and minorities. Unlike the wealthy, the poor and marginalized communities do not own assets that shield them from the full force of inflation. [7]

 

The energy burden is not new for marginalized communities; this is not a new problem either. The poor in Gainesville spend 22% of their income on just their utilities, [8] which is much higher than the national average. Those in marginalized communities, such as minorities and the poor, need substantial relief from the predatory pricing from companies looking to increase profits at the expense of the most vulnerable.

 

[1] https://original.newsbreak.com/@jake-wells-560892/2593813183408-florida-is-now-the-most-expensive-state-to-live-in-the-u-s

[2] https://www.deptofnumbers.com/income/florida/

[3] https://original.newsbreak.com/@jake-wells-560892/2593813183408-florida-is-now-the-most-expensive-state-to-live-in-the-u-s

[4] https://www.miamidadematters.org/demographicdata?id=12&sectionId=936

[5] https://www.miamidadematters.org/demographicdata?id=12&sectionId=936

[6] https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2022/consumer-prices-up-8-5-percent-for-year-ended-march-2022.htm

[7] https://fortune.com/2021/11/16/inflation-is-not-good-for-the-poor-biden-gustavo-flores-macias-cornell/

[8] https://www.wuft.org/news/energy-burden/

Education

So, What Can We Do?!

By Chapter 570 Section 07 of the Florida Statutes, the Commissioner of Agriculture has the power to investigate, advocate, and fight for the marginalized consumers of Florida who are being hit the hardest. Rising prices in the food and energy industries are preying on these communities when they are at their lowest. The statutes state that if "the interests of the consumers of this state have been damaged or are being damaged, or that the public health, safety, or welfare is endangered or is likely to be endangered by any consumer product or service, to commence legal proceedings in circuit court to enjoin the act or practice or the sale of the product or service and may seek appropriate relief on behalf of consumers.” [1]  The Commissioner has the power to legally pursue these industries in order to protect the interests of the Floridians. The Commissioner can “seek appropriate relief on behalf of consumers," meaning the Department has the power to retroactively help and reimburse those that have been hurt the worst. Since it is the duty of those who hold this position to keep the consumer safe, marginalized communities must have an advocate and representative.

[1] http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0500-0599/0570/Sections/0570.07.html