The Serious Consequences of High Gas Prices

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Some places were higher than average.
According to Bloomberg, "motorists in the U.S. paid record high prices for gasoline in 2012...the national average price of gasoline in 2012 was $3.60 a gallon, nine cents more than the previous annual record set last year...Prices touched $3.94 a gallon on April 5 and 6..."

Higher gas prices are not just irritating. They affect the economy rather broadly, as the following excerpt from the book, Fill Your Tank With Freedom makes clear:

There is an insidious side-effect of rising gasoline prices. As people spend more money on gas, they spend less money on other things, and that causes the loss of jobs. “Since consumer spending is the main driver of the U.S. economy,” says Mark Cooper, Research Director of the Consumer Federation of America, “when speculators, oil companies and OPEC rob consumers of that much spending power, the inevitable result is a dramatic reduction of economic activity and employment.”

In Cooper’s study of the effect of oil prices on jobs, he discovered that every time oil prices have spiked since World War II, we’ve had a recession in America. In his study, he showed that because oil was about $30 a barrel higher than “costs or historic trends justify,” (from the summer of 2010 to the summer of 2011) gas prices rose by a dollar a gallon in one year, which drained about 200 billion dollars from the economy. This is about two percent of consumer spending. That doesn’t seem like much, but two percent less spending (200 billion dollars) created the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Another way to look at it is that because most of our cars are not capable of burning anything but gasoline, we imported about $500 billion dollars per year of oil, sending that money out of the country. That would have paid five million workers $100,000 a year! But the money leaving our country just leaves — doing nothing for us. If the same money was paid to workers here, it would have a huge ripple effect in our economy because that money would then be used to buy other goods and services in America.

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