Rural Areas Impacted By Gas Expenses

9 06 2008

I’ve been telling you this for a couple of months right now. I guess the New York Times telling it to you will give it more validity.

But the pain is not being felt uniformly. Across broad swaths of the South, Southwest and the upper Great Plains, the combination of low incomes, high gas prices and heavy dependence on pickup trucks and vans is putting an even tighter squeeze on family budgets.

Here in the Mississippi Delta, some farm workers are borrowing money from their bosses so they can fill their tanks and get to work. Some are switching jobs for shorter commutes.

People are giving up meat so they can buy fuel. Gasoline theft is rising. And drivers are running out of gas more often, leaving their cars by the side of the road until they can scrape together gas money.

The disparity between rural America and the rest of the country is a matter of simple home economics. Nationwide, Americans are now spending about 4 percent of their take-home income on gasoline. By contrast, in some counties in the Mississippi Delta, that figure has surpassed 13 percent.

As a result, gasoline expenses are rivaling what families spend on food and housing.

Recently, I went to court. Gas theft was an issue. Farmers are having to watch their implements. It went from people stealing anhydrous to stealing gas.

When people get boxed into a corner, they get desperate.

This is more dire than people think. I can’t say that enough.



8 responses

9 06 2008
Josh Maxwell

Well said Great information, keep up the great work!

9 06 2008

But as I just blogged this morning… the people in the stories you related are considered the “fringes of society”. And nobody is taking them and their woes seriously. Sadly, the rest of us are a huge part of the Fringe’s problem because unless you are in the lowest demographic you aren’t changing too much about your life. And the lack of habit changes is why the prices are where they are. Most experts agree that there would need to be a 25% reduction in consumption in order to make any real difference. And I read last month that in March, when prices really started going into warp drive, we only dropped 3.4%. It will be interesting to see what the next few weeks bring.

9 06 2008

I think it may be the difference between rural areas with lower wages. Trucks/farming implements are imperative in agriculture-based industries in rural America. (We are big soybean/corn country here.) Most people, as was highlighted in the NYT story, live round trip from where they are employed which can be miles.
The average income where I live is roughly $30,000 dollars a year but the folks I’m talking to are around the $20,000 level.
And just moving to where the money or public transportation is available is not always an option (I’ve been considering it for two years but would like to stay in the state.) The thing that I keep trying to communicate is that national averages and rural averages are not always spotlighted in mainstream media.
I’m seriously considering getting rid of one of my vehicles and purchasing a scooter.
There is also really no middle class where I live. Those with and those without.
Missy, You make some very valid points. I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better. I’m trying to be optimistic though.

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