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Despite high oil prices, energy costs are not a problem for US households [ClearOnMoney]
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Despite high oil prices, energy costs are not a problem for US households

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Commentary

Despite high oil prices, energy costs are not a problem for US households

10 Apr 2012 by Jim Fickett.

James Hamilton at Econbrowser pointed out on Sunday that spending by US households on energy goods and services, as a percentage of total expenditures, was actually rather low late last year (Q4 of 2011 is the latest data available). Apparently cheap natural gas and a mild winter more than offset high gasoline prices.

(The dashed line marks the mean over the time span shown. Data are from NIPA table 2.4.5u, lines 1 and 365.)

Of course the cost of oil shows up indirectly in many places besides household energy purchases – shipping and manufacturing costs, for example. And many people worry that current high oil prices may be a drag on economic growth. But Hamilton also points out that economic shocks come mainly when the oil price hits new highs and, though the price is currently high, it was significantly higher in 2008.