The Gasoline Intensity of US GDP

Gasoline prices hit new (nominal) highs. But the usage of gasoline per unit GDP (and in absolute terms) has declined since 2008.

Figure 1: Gasoline supplied to GDP ratio, in gallons to Ch.2012$ (blue, left log scale), and ratio of CPI-gasoline to core CPI, 1982-84=1 (brown, right log scale). NBER defined recession dates, peak-to-trough, shaded gray. Source: DOE EIA, BEA, BLS via FRED, and author’s calculations.

The ratio for gasoline to GDP has declined by about half since 1979. The trend decline persists during times of both high and low relative gasoline prices.

In non-normalized and nominal terms:

Figure 2: Gasoline supplied, in thousands of bbl/day (blue, left log scale), and CPI-gasoline, 1982-84=1 (brown, right log scale). NBER defined recession dates, peak-to-trough, shaded gray. Source: DOE EIA, BLS via FRED, and author’s calculations.