We’re Driving Less, But Spending More on Gasoline
From Business Week
By Matthew Philips
Last year the average U.S. household spent just under $3,000 on gasoline, or about 4 percent of its income, according to the Energy Information Administration. With the exception of 2008, when oil peaked at $144 a barrel, that’s the highest share of income that’s gone to gasoline since the early 1980s, when it was closer to 5 percent.
If that seems high to you, remember the U.S. is on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of how much gasoline costs relative to income. In much of Western Europe, a gallon of gasoline accounts for about 6 percent of daily income. In China, it takes about 30 percent of an average day’s wage to buy a gallon of gasoline. Relative to income, gasoline in the U.S. is still super cheap.
And yet the share of U.S. income that goes to gasoline has roughly doubled in the last decade, from 2 percent in the late 1990s. This is essentially a price story, rather than one of higher consumption.
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