Falling gas prices provide bright spot in recent economic news

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The volatile economy has people on edge, wondering what will happen next. Some Utahns we spoke with today say at least there's one bright spot: falling gas prices.

According to a national survey, gas prices have tumbled 53 cents in the past two weeks. In Utah, prices have dropped about 30 cents in just in the last week.

Michelle Williams
Michelle Williams

Michelle Thompson is thrilled about the falling price of gas. So thrilled, she's beginning to change some of her driving habits.

"We didn't take the train or TRAX because we needed to drive in, and we didn't feel resentful the entire time we were driving," she said.

What Thompson and others we spoke with today do resent is the downward spiral of the economy.

"I'm going to plan on being as careful as I can with what you've got," Thompson said.

Utahn Matt Lawrence said, "Everybody's going to slow down because they're afraid something is going to happen."

"I think we're in for a bit of, a bit of a rough patch in the economy," said Dr. Scott Schaefer, finance professor at the University of Utah.

Dr. Scott Schaefer
Dr. Scott Schaefer

In spite of today's soar on Wall Street, the fed's expected interest rate cut tomorrow and falling gas prices, Schaefer says consumers continue to be wary.

"I think people are going to be much more cautious about spending money. People have already seen the value of their houses fall. Now they've seen the value of their 401(k)s fall," Schaefer said.

Tied together, those issues were reflected in the latest consumer confidence report, which basically showed consumers have little confidence.

But those we talked to today were optimistic there will be a turnaround.

"It's tight right now, but it will come up eventually," Utah resident Marlin Green said.

Thompson said, "I'm going to keep plugging away and be hopeful."

Those we spoke with are confident things will get better someday. But Dr. Schaefer, along with other economists, is hesitant to put a time line on when things will improve.

E-mail: lprichard@ksl.com

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