Demand drops, gas prices follow

By Greg Gelpi

Gas prices have received mixed emotions in Clayton County, but most are pleased with the recent sharp decline.

Prices for regular unleaded gas broke the $2 a gallon mark in much of Clayton County, but in the past two weeks prices have steadily ticked down between $1.75 and $1.79 throughout the county.

Richard Huber of Jonesboro said the price of gas has made him cautious about his driving.

"I try to be a little more conservative," Huber said. "I try to be a little more conscious of my driving so that I don't duplicate my trips."

Gas prices haven't affected his summer plans, he added. Gas prices haven't affected Clare Wade at all.

"It really doesn't bother me as you can see by what I'm driving," Wade said, pointing to her Ford Expedition.

Falling gas prices are "nice," she said, "always nice." The price of gas hasn't changed much percentage-wise in the past 10 years, she said.

In comparison to milk, food and other good and services, the price of gas is about a third of what it was in 1980, said Nikki Findlay, an assistant professor of economics at Clayton College & State University.

"The price of gasoline compared to goods and services is not high," she said.

The price of gas isn't as married to the economy as it once was, Findlay said, but any decrease in prices is good for the consumers and good for the economy. Gas prices "definitely" impact the cost of goods and services.

Findlay, who discusses gas prices in her economics classes, said the reason for recent declines in gas prices is probably due to a decline in demand.

"I think the main reason prices have fallen is demand-related," she said. "It's been high so long people realize it's not going down to $1.25 that people have started to conserve."

Travelers are probably also opting for closer destinations for summer vacations, Findlay said. Also, school is out for the summer, which reduces the demand for gas by buses and parents bringing children to and from and school and school activities.

"I think it will drop a little more, but I don't think it will drop below $1.50," Findlay said. "I'm surprised it has dropped as much as it has."

The economy had a strong third quarter, though, so many people may have expendable income.