How is $30.00 Per Gallon Gas Affecting You?
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
October 6, 2005
So far I'm doing ok, I think. But then everything's relative. I have no children to shuttle to school events, no long commute to work, no non-stop use of my vehicle for work.
Last Saturday I was talking with a group of upper middle class residents of our County in a far flung subdivision of our County and asked if gas prices were affecting their decisions on driving. I expected that given their relatively comfortable situation, that they would say higher gas prices had not affected them. However, they did say that gas prices were affecting their driving habits.
The rise in gas prices comes against the backdrop of other interesting economic phenomena. According to Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, "The sizable gains in consumer spending of recent years have been accompanied by a drop in the personal saving rate to an average of only 1 percent over 2004--a very low figure relative to the nearly 7 percent rate averaged over the previous three decades."
The October issue of the AARP Bulletin (www.aarp.org/bulletin ) reports that "almost two-thirds – 62 percent – of Americans 50+ have limited their daily driving because of high gas prices.
The national survey also found:
- 47% cut down on travel and vacations.
- 41% compensated for high gas prices by reducing other spending.
- 40% of respondents were saving less.
- 39% reduced visits with family and friends.
- 28% increased the amount they walk.
- 13% said they were eating less.
- 6% said they had reduced medical treatment.
- 6% said they had cut their prescriptions to accommodate higher fuel bills."
"These are lifestyle-changing prices," said James Toedtman, editor of the AARP Bulletin. "Many people were already making significant adjustments before Katrina. Post-storm costs have driven Americans to find additional ways to trim their household budgets."
AARP Bulletin also reports that as the price of gasoline continues to rise, several community programs and small businesses are struggling to provide essential services such as food delivery and medical transportation to older Americans."
"In some parts of the country, particularly rural communities, the situation is dire," said Toedtman. Rising gas prices forced Homecare Solutions in Lexington, SC to raise its prices for visiting nursing assistants who provide daily bathing, meal preparation and light housekeeping for older citizens. Meals-on-Wheels in Richland, SC told the AARP Bulletin that they have cut food deliveries back from five to three days a week, are providing only emergency transportation on certain days and are establishing carpools in response to hiking gas prices."
All of this raises a question as to how we Americans will respond to the heightened energy prices. This provides a great segway into the kind of response that is being made by your County. In the next column, I will discuss the developing news about the "dent" we intend to put into the supply and demand equation from our local perspective.