Higher gas prices leave many workers running on empty

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Few have been unaffected by the rapidly increasing price of gas, which has inched its way up toward $4 a gallon in some parts of the United States. And consumers arent feeling those effects just in their wallets, a Florida State University professor has found.

Research conducted by Wayne Hochwarter, a professor of management in FSUs College of Business, documents that Americans work attitudes have been affected as the cost to fill a tank of gas has nearly doubled over the past few years. In his research, approximately 1,000 full-time employees were asked to note how gas prices have affected their disposable spending patterns. They also were asked how these changes affected their stress levels and willingness to participate at work. (Respondents, who worked in both blue- and white-collar occupations, reported paying an average of $2.83 a gallon during their previous visit to the gas station at the time they were surveyed earlier this year.)

Sixty percent of employees confirmed that the price of gas has significantly reduced the amount of money they have to spend on other things, while 45 percent reported the need to pay off debts more slowly or not at all. Finally, 26 percent indicated that the cost of gas has necessitated going without basics such as heat or air conditioning, or even cutting back on food purchases, over the past few months.

Further, Hochwarter found that those most affected by gas prices were prone to experience stress both on and off the job. Specifically, negative views of work and the company, sluggishness, antagonistic behavior, feeling overwhelmed and sadness were significantly higher for those indicating gas-price-related effects on spending behavior.

"Most of these effects can be attributed directly to distraction while at work," Hochwarter said. "Those Ive talked to spent a significant amount of time worrying about their financial situation."

The research also indicate

Contact: Wayne Hochwarter
Florida State University

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