UPI: "Gas price stress lowers work productivity"
Some quick points:
The people surveyed work in a wide range of occupations, primarily in the southeastern United States, and drive personal vehicles to work with an average commute of 15 miles each way.
"People concerned with the effects of gas prices were significantly less attentive on the job, less excited about going to work, less passionate and conscientious and more tense," Hochwarter says in a statement. "These people also reported more 'blues' on the job."
A few more stats from the article:
— 45 percent have had to cut back on debt-reduction payments, such as credit card payments.
— Nearly 30 percent considered the consequences of going without basics, including food, clothing and medicine.
— 45 percent report the escalating gas prices have "caused them to fall behind financially."
What this article seems to tell us — aside from the fact that this country has too many researchers — is that lots of households apparently have a tough time coping when any one expense increases $125 per month. Not a surprise, of course, but a telling point nonetheless. The paycheck-to-paycheck crowd is alive and well. Or alive and suffering, as the case may be.
Where'd I get that $125 number?
Easy. I was just playin' with Excel:
Using the survey's 30-mile-per-commute-per-day average, and factoring for some other assumptions (2 drivers per household; 17mpg average from vehicles; and so on) I estimated that having gas prices at $3.50 per gallon (where they are in my town) costs our Average Survey Family roughly $125 per month more than does $2 per gallon gas.
If you'd like to see the (very basic) spreadsheet I used, and perhaps play with the numbers a bit, you can get it here:
Spreadsheet: Cooking with Gas Prices
I enjoyed changing the variables (like commute distance and mpg) and watching the effect these changes had on monthly fuel costs. Makes me glad my household owns two four-cylinder, decent-mileage vehicles (Nissan truck and Honda Accord). However, it also makes me wish I had my '95 Accord back. That little scooter had a five-speed standard transmission, and got FANTASTIC mileage (upper 20s to lower 30s mpg) all around.
Bothered By Higher Fuel Prices?
Am I bothered by higher fuel prices? At this point, not so much. Certainly it doesn't interfere with my workday — except for that part about having to listen to coworkers b*#&h and moan about $80/tank fill-ups.
Now, I don't like spending $40 or $45 to fill up our tanks, but the increased fuel cost hasn't destroyed my budget. In fact, at the end of the month, I don't notice it too much at all. My commute is less than 20 miles per day, and my wife's (stay-at-home mom) driving is largely "to-school-and-back" or "to-store-and-back." We're terribly lucky in this regard.
If you're a paycheck-to-paycheck family, however, whose monthly cash flow is already redlining, then current fuel prices could be a zinger. Throw higher food costs on top of that, and yes, you're talking significant stress.