High Gas Prices Are Good for Some of Us

To hear politicians, the media or the masses (including myself) talk about it, the current high gas prices mark the end of civilization, the fall of America’s world domination, and I’ll assume the reason for Snooki’s pregnancy too.

But are some industries thriving on high gas prices? You bet, and it’s not just the predictable ones like mass transit, hybrid cars and bike shops. Here are three rooting for higher and higher prices at the pump:

1. Urban housing: Some studies have found that homebuyers are factoring gas costs into their home purchasing, which means more interest in urban housing or first-ring suburbs. While gas prices are not a dominant factor like taxes, the National Association of Home Builders found in a recent survey that fewer people are willing to endure longer commutes in order to afford a home: Down from 35% in 1998 to 21% in 2011.

2. Online retailers: Online shopping has been making huge gains in popularity in the last few years, and some analysts have found a surprising link between spikes in gas prices and increases in online shopping. And with many retailers offering free shipping incentives beyond the holiday season, the financial argument becomes even stronger to shop from the couch.

3. Texas: Thanks to unrest in the Middle East, oil producers in Texas have increased the number of rigs to take advantage of the higher prices. And a portion of the sale of every barrel of oil produced in Texas goes into the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund (a.k.a. the Rainy Day Fund), which can be tapped for needs like filling in state budget shortfalls or aiding in natural disaster clean-ups. And it’s a lot: Current estimates put it between $7 and $8.5 billion. (for comparison, Texas and Alaska (another oil and gas state of course) have rainy day fund balances exceeding those of all other states combined according to the National Association of State Budget Officers).

Article by Maria Surma Manka, appearing courtesy Earth & Industry.

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