Wednesday, July 02, 2008

It bears repeating: Gas prices hit rural areas worst

USA Today has picked up where The New York Times left off almost four weeks ago, reminding the nation that high fuel prices hit rural people hardest -- especially those in the poorest rural areas like Appalachia, the Black Belt, the Mississippi Delta and Indian country.

"They often pay more than people who live in cities and suburbs because of the expense of hauling fuel to their communities, and they must drive greater distances for life's necessities: work, groceries, medical care and, of course, gas," Judy Keen writes. "Meanwhile, incomes typically are lower in rural areas, making increasingly high gas prices an especially urgent concern. Rural households also are more likely to have older, less fuel-efficient vehicles such as pickups, the Federal Highway Administration says. The average age of a vehicle in a rural household: 8.7 years, compared with 7.9 years for an urban vehicle. Rural residents do more driving, too — an average of 3,100 miles a year more than urban dwellers." (Read more)

Like the Times, USA Today cites research from the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express, which collects credit-card data, showing that rural residents "spend as much as 16.02% of their monthly family income on gas, while people in urban areas of New York and New Jersey spend as little as 2.05%." The USA Today map below, using data from the companies, shows percentages by county. The data make localizing this story easy. Here's an example from the Lexington Herald-Leader. While this story isn't new, it deserves continued attention.

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