12 Ways $5-A-Gallon Gasoline Would Change America

Gasoline prices have been rising.

Gasoline prices have been rising. Paying $4 a gallon (on average) when the heavy driving season begins this summer is not out of the question. What if gas hits $5? An attack on Iran’s nuclear sites or a severe hurricane hitting U.S. refineries could do that.

And though the economy is no longer as dependent on oil as it was 40, 30 or even 20 years ago, sharp energy price hikes still pack a wallop. Gasoline prices reaching and staying at $5 a gallon for three or four months would likely trim already lackluster economic growth. Consumers paying more at the pump would reduce spending on other things. Businesses would likely be more cautious about hiring. We'd feel it across the economy in ways both obvious and subtle.

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