Percentage Of U.S. Family Income Spent On Gas Highest In 30 Years

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It’s been 30 years since gasoline took such a big bite out of the family budget.

AT the end of 2011, the typical American household will have spent $4,155 filling up this year, a record. That is 8.4 percent of what the median family takes in, the highest share since 1981.

Gas averaged more than $3.50 a gallon this year, another unfortunate record. And next year isn’t likely to bring relief.

In the past, high gas prices in the United States have gone hand-in-hand with economic good times, making them less damaging to family finances. Now prices are high despite slow economic growth and weak demand.

That’s because demand for crude oil is rising globally, especially in the developing nations of Asia and Latin America.

In 1981, when the economy was sliding into recession and oil prices were high because of Middle East turmoil, gas ate up 8.8 percent of the typical family budget.

Over the past decade, gas has taken up 5.7 percent of the family budget. If families had spent only 5.7 percent this year, they would have saved $1,300.

For this year, gas should average $3.53 per gallon.

That’s 76 cents more than last year. It’s 29 cents per gallon more than 2008, when gas last set an annual record, $3.24. That year, the price of oil hit a record in the summer but collapsed when the financial crisis struck in the fall.

READ MORE: NJ STAR LEDGER


3 COMMENTS

  1. CharlieSmall writes “makes me wonder what the comments would be like if Bush was still in office.

    Believe me you don’t want to know. It would be so disasters that you would wish for what we have now.