If you’ve been feeling particularly anxious lately about the economy and rising gas prices, you are not alone.
As the Russia-Ukraine conflict carries on with no end in sight, new research from the global insights agency, Opinium, finds that almost all (94%) Americans are worried about gas prices. Three in five (59%) are ‘extremely worried’ while 35% are either somewhat or slightly worried. Just 6% of Americans say they are not worried about gas prices at all.
This makes gas prices the number one concern for Americans according to the research, with the economy overall coming in at a close second (46% are extremely worried about the economy). Concerns over gas prices and the economy have put Covid in the rearview mirror, with the pandemic now falling to almost the bottom of the list of American concerns. Almost half of Americans (48%) say they are not at all or only slightly worried about the pandemic.
This is quite a reversal given where we were just a few months ago. In fact, US Google searches for “Covid” reached an all-time high this January, but have since fallen to their lowest point since the start of the pandemic as concerns over the war in Ukraine have mounted.
Impact on personal finances
The knock-on effect of gas price hikes is reaching the majority of Americans with 77% worrying about their finances as a result. Furthermore, 44% say they are worrying all or most of the time.
Younger Americans are impacted most of all. Our data shows concern spiking among younger respondents with 55% of 18-34-year-olds saying increasing gas prices have them worried about their finances all or most of the time, compared to just 37% of those aged 45 and up.
Cutting back elsewhere
So what are Americans doing to curb their anxieties about gas prices? To save money on gas, Americans have adopted several new behaviors:
- 70% are not traveling by car as much as they would like to
- 64% are delaying or not making other purchases
- 57% are not filling up their gas tanks completely
- 23% are opting for public transportation (when available to them) – with two in five (39%) who live in urban areas taking public transportation, where it is typically more accessible
Matching their higher level of concern, younger Americans are also more likely than the general population to be making sacrifices in response to the increase in gas prices:
Biden blamed for gas price hikes
Looking at who or what is most at fault for the increase in gas prices, 44% of Americans point the finger at President Biden. This is followed by the Russia-Ukraine conflict (36%), oil companies (33%), and Vladimir Putin (30%).
Despite this, American support for Western countries intervening diplomatically against Russia (e.g., implementing sanctions and other penalties) has not faltered. The majority of Americans still support Western diplomatic intervention (63%), while one in five opposes it (20%).
This indicates that Americans (at least for now) are willing to tolerate some measure of personal financial discomfort for this cause.
Methodology: Opinium conducted an online survey among 2,000 nationally representative US adults from March 17th to March 22nd, 2022.
This is a guest post by Giulia Prati, VP of Research at Opinium, an award-winning global research and insights firm. She has spent her career deploying quantitative and qualitative research methodologies to advise clients on data-driven marketing and communications strategies. In the financial services space, she works with firms including Mastercard, American Express, and fintech app Acorns. Giulia graduated Magna Cum Laude from Columbia University.