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Will Americans ever get it ? Time is fast running out for them to make changes...

Gas prices rack some Midlands residents

By JAMES D. McWILLIAMS

jmcwilliams@thestate.com

Felicia Norris lost three pounds this spring on the gas-crunch diet — an unwanted meal plan in which gasoline prices have snatched $30 a week from her food budget.

“I’m eating more dairy foods instead of steak,” said Norris, 42, a Columbia nursing assistant. “I can’t go to the grocery store or shopping like I used to.”

Norris usually works 15 miles from home and spends $80 a week on gas, she said. She visited the Harvest Hope Food Bank on Wednesday to get help feeding herself and a grandchild.

Norris is not alone among working-class people struggling to cope with gas prices that have flirted with $3 a gallon. The high cost of filling cars and trucks is breaking the budgets of many Midlands residents who have low-income or temporary jobs — or who are between jobs.

The impact of prices varies by family, sometimes depending on how far workers must drive to jobs or for other necessities. Here are examples of how people are hurt.

BARE CUPBOARDS

Gas prices are pushing more people to need food assistance but also are making it difficult to travel to get that assistance.

The number of families visiting the Harvest Hope Food Bank has doubled since late 2004, due partly to gas prices, said Eileen Newman, who coordinates the charity’s emergency-food program. The program serves 76 families a day.

But many people must carpool to the food bank, Newman said, or must find rides home after literally spending their last dollar getting there.

“I’ve seen three to four families in a van, six (people) in a car,” Newman said. “We have bus tickets here to help them.”

HURTING JOB SEARCH

Gas prices are interfering with job searches by the unemployed.

Cayce resident Gregory Perry, 42, lost his trainee job as a restaurant manager a month ago, shortly after he traded his Mercury Mountaineer sport-utility vehicle for a more fuel-efficient Nissan Sentra.

Although the new car uses less gas, Perry can afford to drive to job interviews just two days a week, he said, when he used to drive to interview four days a week.

“I look at the (gas) prices go up and down,” said Perry, visiting a state employment office this week.

William Richardson, 26, a former loan officer in Columbia, has been looking for work for five months. The $65 cost to fill up his 2002 Ford Taurus “makes it extremely hard going out looking for work.”

“I try to go out at least every two days,” said Richardson, who also was visiting the food bank Wednesday. “If I tried to go (to interviews) every day, I would be out of gas in two to three days.”

JOB VS. COST OF DRIVE

Workers who do find jobs are finding some too expensive to drive to, compared with what they pay.

“Some reliable employees are rejecting positions that are farther away,” said Kimberly Riley, a staffing agent at the Randstad employment agency in Columbia. “Some workers in Aiken are no longer willing to drive to positions in Columbia, due to the gas prices. It doesn’t make financial sense” to drive so far.

To combat that conflict, Brian Shull, a staffing manager with Snelling Personnel Services in Columbia, said his office has been giving prepaid gas cards to top-performing employees for the past six months.

Irmo resident Patty Adams, who has temporary work as an administrative assistant, saved $240 a month when she switched from a job 25 miles from home to one less than half that distance away.

“I have a big truck, a Ford Explorer, and it drinks gas like people drink water,” Adams said.

To deal with the expense, Norris and her insurance-adjuster husband have cut premium cable channels, wireless Internet service, and trips to movies, a gym and restaurants. Adams’ cellular phone might be one of the next things to go, she said.

Beyond that: “Eating?” she said, with a timid laugh.

For workers like Norris, though, whose food budgets already have been cut, it is not a laughing matter. She said of the price of gas, “It’s just not right.”

Most amusing:

“I have a big truck, a Ford Explorer, and it drinks gas like people drink water,” Adams said.

So sell the damn thing and buy a Neon !!!!!

The $65 cost to fill up his 2002 Ford Taurus “makes it extremely hard going out looking for work.”

Is this guy nuts ??? Those are monsters ! Surely he can sell it and buy a motorbike or a smaller jap car ???

Whats the point in clinging to your SUV when you can't feed your family ?

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“I have a big truck, a Ford Explorer, and it drinks gas like people drink water,” Adams said.

That is an absolute classic. I can picture the guy perfectly in my head, standing looking puzzled at his Explorer and scratching his head, thinking "I don't get it..." :blink:

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So sell the damn thing and buy a Neon !!!!!

If Americans start selling big cars and buying small cars, then small car prices wil go up and big car prices drop through the floor. I believe that happened in the 70s oil crisis, I remember someone saying they bought a nearly-new Cadillac for practically nothing because everyone was trying to get rid of them and buy tiny little cars instead.

In reality, you'd probably be better off paying the extra money for petrol for a few years than taking a huge depreciation hit when trying to sell, provided you have the cashflow to do so. Even at $5 a gallon in a 20mpg car, petrol probably isn't a large fraction of the lifetime cost of ownership... $5k of depreciation will pay for 20,000 miles of petrol even before you include taxes, insurance, maintenance, etc.

At $20 a gallon, yeah, even scrapping it might make sense. But at $20 a gallon, the US economy would be in a deep depression anyway.

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That is an absolute classic. I can picture the guy perfectly in my head, standing looking puzzled at his Explorer and scratching his head, thinking "I don't get it..." :blink:

yeap, they are that dumb and living in their own world

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If Americans start selling big cars and buying small cars, then small car prices wil go up and big car prices drop through the floor. I believe that happened in the 70s oil crisis, I remember someone saying they bought a nearly-new Cadillac for practically nothing because everyone was trying to get rid of them and buy tiny little cars instead.

In reality, you'd probably be better off paying the extra money for petrol for a few years than taking a huge depreciation hit when trying to sell, provided you have the cashflow to do so. Even at $5 a gallon in a 20mpg car, petrol probably isn't a large fraction of the lifetime cost of ownership... $5k of depreciation will pay for 20,000 miles of petrol even before you include taxes, insurance, maintenance, etc.

I know where you are coming from, but when you are in that kind of a bind, you just don't think about it that deep. You do it and move on. Maybe the guy in the article (and many Americans for that matter) doesn't have the cashflow to ride it out in a huge SUV until weakening demand brings down prices.

It's a sort of a catch22 I guess: demand cannot fall until people stop using so much gas. People will only stop using so much gas when they downsize to smaller jams

Also dont forget that Americans drive huge distances on a daily basis. The benefits of downsizing may be huge and immediate for some of them.

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I know where you are coming from, but when you are in that kind of a bind, you just don't think about it that deep. You do it and move on. Maybe the guy in the article (and many Americans for that matter) doesn't have the cashflow to ride it out in a huge SUV until weakening demand brings down prices.

It's a sort of a catch22 I guess: demand cannot fall until people stop using so much gas. People will only stop using so much gas when they downsize to smaller jams

Also dont forget that Americans drive huge distances on a daily basis. The benefits of downsizing may be huge and immediate for some of them.

Interesting article.

Here in New Jersey, prices are $2.98 a gallon. Now you may think we have it good compared to UK, but American's aren't used to prices going up so quick.

I drive a Ford Focus, I get 34 mpg, not bad, but someone driving an SUV will get maybe 20 mpg highway.

When I moved to the USA in 2001, gas prices were $0.89 a gallon.

New Jersey is considered to have the lowest gas prices in the nation, because they are nearer to ports.

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  • 338 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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