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Household Spending Statistics Reveals the Cost of High Gas Prices
by Kristin Brekke

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household is spending $83 per week on gasoline – 335 percent more than in 2002.

“I think we’ve all become numb to constant gas price increases, but a look at the numbers should make people take notice. An average household pays $4300 a year now for gasoline instead of the $1200 they paid just five years ago,” noted Ron Lamberty, Vice President / Market Development for the American Coalition for Ethanol.

While much recent media attention has focused on increased food prices, a look at the Consumer Price Index shows that the skyrocketing price of gas is by far the heavier burden for American households.

  • In January 2002, an average household paid $102 a week for food (groceries and eating out) and $25 a week for gasoline.
  • By June 1 of this year, a household paid $124 a week for food and $83 a week for gasoline.
  • If gasoline had increased at the same rate as food prices during this time period, we’d be paying $1.39 per gallon at the pump.

Between January 2002 and May 2008, Americans’ food prices have risen 23.1 percent but their gasoline prices have risen 335.8 percent.

Ethanol is part of the solution, acting to keep gas prices from going even higher. Here’s what the experts are saying:

  • The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy note that gas prices would likely be 20 to 35 cents higher per gallon if ethanol was not available.
  • Merrill Lynch analysts believe oil and gas prices would be 15% higher if ethanol producers weren’t expanding their output, which would mean approximately $21 per barrel more for oil and 61 cents more per gallon for gas.
  • Iowa State University found that between 1995 and 2007, Americans in all regions of the country spent less on gas – between 29 and 40 cents a gallon – than they would have if ethanol had not been available.

Using the low and high estimates of ethanol’s savings – 20 cents to 61 cents per gallon – ethanol is saving American households between $210 and $642 per year.

For more details on these Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, download ACE’s report on fuel and food prices online at

© American Coalition for Ethanol, all rights reserved.
The American Coalition for Ethanol publishes Ethanol Today magazine each month to cover the biofuels industryís hot topics, including cellulosic ethanol, E85, corn ethanol, food versus fuel, ethanolís carbon footprint, E10, E15, and mid-range ethanol blends.
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