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Harris Poll finds 51% of Americans have cut back on products and services because of high gas prices

Half of Americans who own a vehicle (51%) say they have cut back on products and/or services in order to pay the increased price of gasoline, according to a new Harris Poll of 2,184 adults surveyed online between May 9 and 16, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

Those with lower household income are more impacted. Almost two-thirds (65%) of those with a household income of less than $35,000 a year have cut back on products or services because of higher gas prices compared to 38% of those who have household income of $100,000 or more.

Almost three in ten of those cutting back (28%) have cut back on dining out while one-quarter have cut back on groceries (24%). One in five say they have cut back on entertainment (18%), while others have reduced driving or are staying home more (11%) and cut back on clothing purchases (10%). Some other things people have cut back on include personal grooming such as hair cuts or manicures (6%), auto repairs and upkeep (5%) and movies (5%) while 5% say they have cut back on everything to pay for the increased price of gasoline.

Blame. Just under one-quarter of Americans (24%) say US oil and natural gas industry profits have had the greatest influence on rising gasoline prices while 22% believe it is the world crude oil prices and 21% believe it’s due to instability in oil producing areas.

One-third of Americans (34%) say the oil and gas industry can best stop rising prices, while three in ten (28%) believe the federal government can best stop rising gasoline prices. One in five (19%) believe consumers can stop rising gas prices while 4% say state and local governments, 3% say the automotive industry and 12% are not sure.

Auto industry. Looking specifically at the automotive industry, half of US adults (53%) say American automotive companies are not moving as quickly as they should to build cars that consume less gasoline, while 22% believe that are and 23% say they are not at all sure. This is a large change from 2006 when three-quarters of US adults (74%) said American car companies weren't moving fast enough and only 9% thought they were. In May of 1979, one-third of Americans (35%) felt the US auto companies were moving as quickly as they could to build cars that consume less gasoline while 60% felt they were not.

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between May 9 to 16, 2011 among 2,184 adults (aged 18 and over), of whom 1,882 own a vehicle. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.



So, as I have suspected all along higher fuel prices do not reduce driving and therefore not reduce emissions as much as environmentalists would like to believe. What it does is make people cut back on other things so that people can still afford to buy gas.

People also get used to high prices. If someone told me five years ago that petrol would climb to almost $10 per gallon (here in the UK), i'd be horrified, but now i'm getting used to it, even in the knowledge that most of what I pay at the pump still goes to the taxman and not the oil company.


The most acceptable taxes (if they exist) vary from one country to another. EU people have accepted higher fuel and sale taxes. Americans do not like visible taxes and rich Americans do not want to pay any income taxes. Over 50% of all Americans would abolish all taxes and government services (armed forces and police excluded) regardless of how many would starve.

Going deeper in debt is the current short term solution but it cannot be used year after year without long term adverse effects. Lower (relative) USD value will soon create higher national inflation and reduce purchase power. Lower standard of living is on the horizon for the majority for years to come.

Not being able to afford higher price gas for large gas guzzlers is only one of the many future un-affordables such as over sized houses etc. Interesting decades ahead.


It could have something to do with 20 million unemployed and five million houses foreclosed, but that is just a guess.


All those millions unemployed is part of the end results, not the cause.


It is recursive, the result reinforces the cause.


Harvey, you need to look at what the conservatives don't tell you...



I am not saying $4 gasoline caused unemployment, you could make the case the increase costs for business caused further lay offs, but the is doubtful.

I contend that the reduction in consumption has more do to with unemployment than other factors. There are usually several causes which can regenerate to create stronger effects, but $4 gasoline is not the major factor IMO, it is just a lever on a tipping point.

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