It makes sense that spread-out areas that aren’t amenable to walking, cycling, and public transportation are the most effected by skyrocketing gasoline prices. The Oil Price Information Service recently conducted a survey which quantifies this disparity.
On average, Americans are currently spending 4% of their after-tax income on fuel. In several more rural areas, gas expenses have surpassed 13% of income. Commutes tend to be significantly longer in these areas, vehicles older, and fuel economy poor.
Nationally, we haven’t hit the record high of 4.5% set in 1981 – but prices are still rising and the possibility of recession could nip income levels as well.
As the New York Times reports, the effects on rural communities are far-reaching. Families are dramatically curtailing their spending across the board meaning that businesses of all stripes are taking a hit.
From the NYT:
Sociologists and economists who study rural poverty say the gasoline crisis in the rural South, if it persists, could accelerate population loss and decrease the tax base in some areas as more people move closer to urban manufacturing jobs. They warn that the high cost of driving makes low-wage labor even less attractive to workers, especially those who also have to pay for child care and can live off welfare and food stamps.
“As gas prices rise, working less could be the economically rational choice,” said Tim Slack, a sociologist at Louisiana State University who studies rural poverty. “That would mean lower incomes for the poor and greater distance from the mainstream.”
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