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Expand chart
Data: EIA; Chart: Axios Visuals

A speech Friday by Esther George, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, offers an interesting high-level look at the economic influence of gasoline prices and why it may never be the same.

The big picture: Gasoline prices account for a smaller share of household spending than they once did — about 4% in the 1980s to roughly 2% last year, though it's much higher for low-income families.

The intrigue: The pandemic is changing the picture even more. Per George, "The COVID-19 shock could further loosen the grip of gasoline prices on consumers’ budgets and reduce the already lowered sensitivity of consumption to changes in the price at the pump."

How it works: Gasoline demand plummeted when commuting went way down due to working from home and job losses, and while there's been some revival, it's still below pre-pandemic levels.

What's next: "One thing that seems unlikely to ever bounce back fully is the amount of commuting," she said.

  • "With many workplaces offering, or likely to offer, increased workplace flexibility, not only is gasoline demand likely to be lower, but it is also likely to be more elastic."

Go deeper

Jan 14, 2021 - Health

Drug companies keep raising prices

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

More than 100 pharmaceutical companies raised prices on over 600 drugs at the beginning of the new year, according to a new report from the advocacy group Patients for Affordable Drugs.

The big picture: Millions of people have lost their health insurance because of the pandemic, and uninsured patients must often pay the full sticker price for prescription drugs.

Ohio sues Biden admin over reversal of Trump-era abortion referral ban

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. Photo: Justin Merriman/Getty Images

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration Monday over a Trump-era ban on abortion referrals that President Biden overturned earlier this month.

The big picture: The lawsuit aims to reinstate two measures included in the 2019 legislation that required federally funded family planning clinics to be "financially independent of abortion clinics," and refrain from referring patients for abortions.

Oklahoma Supreme Court temporarily blocks abortion restrictions

A pro-choice activist demonstrates outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 4, 2021. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday temporarily blocked three abortion restrictions set to take effect on Nov. 1.

Why it matters: The laws would place new limits on medication-induced abortions and require doctors who perform abortions to attain board certification in obstetrics and gynecology.

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