58% of Americans think that falling oil prices are a good thing for the economy
Since the end of August 2014 the average price of a gallon of gas in the US has dropped from $3.55 to $2.72. The fall has been prompted by the dramatic drop in the price of crude oil, which despite bumping up to $100 a barrel a year ago has now dipped down below $40, as fears over the Chinese economy and increased global production rein in once-astronomic oil prices. For many Americans this is good news, but in states such as North Dakota or Wyoming the end of the oil boom is likely to prove painful.
YouGov's research shows that most of the American public (52%) are aware that the price of a gallon of gasoline has decreased over the past year. 29% of the public think it has increased, while 19% think it has stayed the same.
Lower oil prices will help American consumers and cut costs for most businesses, but the oil and gas industry is being hit hard by falling prices. Energy production is one of the largest sectors of the American economy and hundreds of thousands of people either work in the industry or depend on it for a living. Lower prices have already forced many producers to cuting hiring plans or even begin layoffs and the national impact could be significant: three of the five largest American companies are oil companies including the country's largest, Exxon Mobil.
On balance most Americans (58%) say that falling prices are good for the economy, though 9% think that the economy is hurt by lower prices. 19% of the public believe that the economic benefits of lower prices are balanced out by the costs, saying that falling prices are neither good nor bad for the economy overall.
A large majority of Americans (70%) say that the falling price of oil and gas is a good thing for their families. 19% aren't affected by it while 4% are hurt by lower oil and gas prices. Opinion is more split when it comes to the environmental impact of lower prices, however. Only 20% of Americans think that lower prices are bad for the environment, while 37% think it is neither good nor bad. 25% of Americans believe that it is good for the environment that oil and gas prices have been falling.