Families planning road trips this summer, rejoice: According to a new estimate from the U.S. Energy Department, drivers can expect to see the lowest summer gasoline prices in about six years.
Before you head out to buy a gas-guzzling SUV, be forewarned: falling gas prices might not be as good for your pocketbooks — or the economy — as you might think. Low oil prices have slowed job growth, shut down drilling operations, and taken money out of the markets.
Texas, which produces 11 percent of all goods made in the United States, saw its slowest job growth since 2011 and lost 9,500 manufacturing jobs. Across the nation, the U.S. oil rig count, which is commonly used as a barometer for the oil industry, has lost 164 rigs over the past four weeks, adding onto the 276 rigs closed in February. In Texas alone, the oil industry lost 3,500 jobs in February and 4,300 in January. This 7,800 job loss is the sector’s biggest job loss since 2009.
While the industry struggles, many citizens have been celebrating. A poll run by the Iowa-based Principle Financial Group reports that while forty percent of U.S. residents are using the gas-induced savings to pay routine expenses, 54 percent are using the money to pay off debt or grow their savings accounts.
Fifty-four percent of the money consumers are no longer spending on gasoline is vanishing from the markets, along with manufacturing and oil industry jobs. These troubling conditions raise troubling questions: How can we encourage people to invest their gas savings back in the market? What can companies do to adapt to these continuing, low oil prices? How long can these low oil prices keep up, particularly if the Obama administration lifts oil-related sanctions against Iran?