The Energy Information Administration reports household spending on gasoline hit nearly a three-decade high in 2012, accounting for almost 4 percent of income. That averages to roughly $2,900 per person a year.
Gas consumption has decreased — largely because of fuel-efficient cars — but even these gains were not enough to offset 2012’s record gas prices:
U.S. gasoline consumption fell in 2011 to 134.2 billion gallons, its lowest level since 2001. However, at the same time, EIA’s average city retail gasoline price rose 26.1% in 2011, and another 3.3% in 2012, when it reached $3.70 per gallon. The effect of the higher prices in 2011 and 2012 outweighed the effect of reduced consumption.
The Atlantic’s Jordan Weissmann notes the increase in gas prices between 2009 and 2012 is “about the same as the payroll tax hike that economists believe could shave as much as 0.6 percent off of GDP growth this year.”
By the American Petroleum Institute’s admission, U.S. oil production increased 13.8 percent last year — the largest ever for the industry. Yet that boom clearly did not bring down gas prices. So far, four Big Oil companies have reported earnings of more than $100 billion in profits last year, including $45 billion for ExxonMobil.