Filling Up, Skipping Fun: Americans Feeling Pinch of High Gas Prices

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Over half of Americans who own a vehicle say they have cut back on products and/or services in order to pay for the increase in prices at the pump, says a recent Harris Poll.

Cutting back has become a necessary task for many people as gas and oil prices have steadily risen in recent months. The national average price for a gallon of regular gas now hovers around $3.90. The damage for a gallon in California is currently $4.21, according to GasBuddy.com.

To pay for their gas habit, the March poll found Americans are cutting back from a variety of areas. Three-quarters of those who have cut back have decreased dining out and driving in general. Two-thirds have skipped on entertainment and weekend trips. 62% have reduced purchasing luxury items while 59% have put off spending on vacations. Over half of people have cut back on movies and clothing. A third of people report scaling back on groceries, personal grooming and auto repairs.

Those in the lower income brackets are feeling the economic effects more acutely. An interesting finding for the the 99% crowd, the poll found two-thirds of those with a household income under $35,000 a year have cut back on products or services due to higher gas prices, compared to their 37% of their peers with a household income over $100,000.

“Nearly nine-out-of-ten Americans say they expect gas prices to be higher as we enter the summer months. The impact of this kind of price hike is nearly universal and is felt every time an individual gets behind the wheel of their car.  Many Americans are making real cuts in their budget to accommodate for the increase in the gas they need to get to work, school and run essential errands,” says Sarah Simmons, Senior Research Executive and Thought Leader. “As our national economy starts to show signs of recovery, Americans are looking to the federal government and to the oil and natural gas industry to help find workable solutions.”

As for who is to blame for rising oil prices, a third of respondents said oil companies, 25% reported unrest in the Middle East as the culprit. 17% of those polled blamed President Obama for increased gas prices. Those blaming Congressional Republicans and Democrats were 5% and 4%, respectively.