Record High Gas Prices? We're Still Not Even Close
Despite all of the reports about record-high gas and oil prices, we're still nowhere close to record high gas prices adjusted for the growth in per-capita, disposable income.
The chart above shows the cost of 1,000 gallons of gasoline, as a percent of per-capita disposable income in every month from January 1980 to May 2008. During most of 1980 and 1981, it took between 13.50% and 15% of per-capita disposable income ($8,5000 to $10,000 in that period) to purchase 1,000 gallons of gasoline ($1.25 to $1.40 retail price per gallon in that period), which was far greater than the 10.26% that it takes of today's per-capita disposable income of about $37,000 to purchase 1,000 gallons of gas at the May average of $3.76 per gallon.
For gas to reach a record high as a percent of per-capita disposable income, it would have to sell today for about $5.50 per gallon to reach 14.90% of per-capita disposable income, like it did in March of 1981, when gas sold for $1.42 per gallon, and per-capita disposable income was only $9,500.