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Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Gasoline costs take biggest share of household income in three decades
Trips to the gasoline pump in 2012 and 2008 took their biggest share of
U.S. household income in several decades, according to the federal
Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The Energy Department’s statistical arm reported Monday
that the average household spent $2,912 for gasoline in 2012, which
makes up almost 4 percent of pre-tax income, tying 2008 for the highest
percentage in roughly 30 years.
Pump prices took center stage in
White House races in 2008 and 2012, but gasoline expenditures as a share
of household income remain lower they did than the early 1980s, when
they were above 5 percent.
Prices last year were elevated enough
to push the share of household spending to the highest level in decades
even though overall gasoline consumption has been declining for years.
“Efficiency gains have accelerated in recent years, such that total U.S.
gasoline consumption fell in 2011 to 134.2 billion gallons, its lowest
level since 2001. However, at the same time, EIA's average city retail
gasoline price rose 26.1 percent in 2011, and another 3.3 percent in
2012, when it reached $3.70 per gallon. The effect of the higher prices
in 2011 and 2012 outweighed the effect of reduced consumption,” EIA
“As a result, expenditures increased to a record annual
average of $2,655 per household in 2011, rising to an estimated $2,912
in 2012. The 26.1 percent yearly increase in 2011 was six times greater
than the 3.4 percent rise in nominal household income. Additionally, the
3.3 percent estimated gasoline price rise in 2012 outpaced the 2.9
percent estimated increase in income,” the agency said.