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Survey: Lower Gas Prices Don’t Equal More Spending

When gas prices start to drop, generally consumers start to spend a little more.  When they go up, consumers usually cut back.  But a survey found that 80 percent of Americans have not increased their discretionary spending despite a decline in gas prices in the first half of 2013. 

Gas Pump
Miguel Villagran, Getty Images

Last year, higher prices at the pump led 59 percent of Americans to decrease their non-essential spending.  In 2011, when gas prices were also higher, 63 percent of American consumers cut back.

“While rising gasoline prices are a clear headwind to the economy, recent price declines have provided little oomph to the economic recovery,” said Gred McBride,’s senior financial analyst.

According to the survey, only 17 percent of Americans have increased their non-essential spending as a result of the recent drop in gas prices.  Americans are feeling better now than in May 2012 when it comes to job security, debt, net worth and their overall financial situation.  But, savings remains in negative territory.  At the same time, higher-income households, with an annual income of $75,000 and up, are the only group feeling more comfortable with their savings compared to last year, but are feeling slightly negative about their job security.


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