Low gas prices impact local economies

Low gas prices impact local economies
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As gas prices across the Four States remain low, local experts say it is taking a toll on the economy of each state.

Economies in Kansas and Missouri are seeing a benefit, but Oklahoma could be negatively impacted if the prices remain low long-term.

Before gas prices dropped, Duquesne resident Carl Oberg spent an average of $100 a week on gas.

He says his expense is now down to around $60 a week, opening the door to spend the difference elsewhere.

“Things like going out, maybe seeing a movie, or traveling, going down to Branson or over to Springfield or something, to see things,” Oberg said. “It will make a difference.”

And he is not the only one enjoying the break.

“Lower prices mean more change in our pockets,” said Starsky Love, Joplin resident.

“It makes you want to get out and travel more,” said Neil Deplue, Frontenac resident.

Jasen Jones, Executive Director of Workforce Investment Board in Joplin, says cheaper fuel has lead to more widespread consumer spending across the region.

“It expands the options of where they’re going to get work, to get basic services,” Jones said. “It gives them more choices.”

Jones says while lower fuel prices have a positive impact on economies in Missouri and Kansas, it is a different case across state lines in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma’s economy relies heavily on oil companies that tend to drill less when there is less profit to be made.

“When you get into parts of Oklahoma, Texas and other states that depend heavily on oil extraction and refining, then yes, that will affect economies that are overly dependent on just a few industry sectors tied to oil and fuel prices and such,” Jones said.

Less profit and less drilling long-term, could cost jobs.

However, Jones says southwest Missouri would not see that same impact.

“I don’t think that will touch Joplin’s economy as much because our manufacturing, and our economic base, is in much different areas,” he said.

Jones does not expect the decrease in prices to continue indefinitely, and recommends enjoying the economic boost to our area while it lasts.

“It won’t be the gift that keeps on giving,” Jones said.

Gas prices have consistently decreased across the Four States over the past month, with the lowest in some areas of Oklahoma, at $1.99 per gallon.