* Households spent $2,912 on gasoline on average in 2012
* Motor fuel costs make up 4 percent of pre-tax income
NEW YORK Feb 4 Households in the United States
spent a record amount on gasoline last year, the U.S. Energy
Information Administration said on Monday, with more of their
income going toward motor fuel costs than at any time since the
The average household expenditure on gasoline hit $2,912 in
2012, the EIA said, or just under 4 percent of pre-tax income,
as higher prices at the pump canceled out the effect of more
"This was the highest estimated percentage of household
income spent on gasoline in nearly three decades, with the
exception of 2008, when the average household spent a similar
amount," the EIA said.
"Although overall gasoline consumption has decreased in
recent years, a rise in average gasoline prices has led to
higher overall household gasoline expenditures."
The previous record amount was just below $2,750 in 2008,
according to a graph on the EIA's website, as crude oil prices
spiked toward $150 a barrel in the first half of 2012. Global
crude oil prices averaged around $111 in 2011 and 2012.
The average cost of a gallon of gasoline in U.S. cities was
$3.70 last year, the EIA said, up more than 30 percent since
The rise is largely due to higher global crude oil prices as
the world economy has slowly recovered, but the shuttering of
several older refineries on the U.S. East Coast has also
increased the amount motorists pay for gasoline over and above
the crude oil price rise.
"These expenditures as a percentage of overall household
income are still low when compared to the early 1980s," the EIA
"Although travel per household has increased significantly
since the early 1980s, vehicle efficiency has also risen
significantly, reducing the amount of gasoline used per mile."
Gasoline made up between 4 and 5 percent of household income
between 1979 and 1983 as the effects of the Arab oil embargo