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Report: Average SD Family Could Spend $463 More On Gas This Year

The average San Diego family will spend $463 more on gasoline this year if prices stay high, according to a report released today by the National University System Institute for Policy Research.

The average price of a gallon of unleaded gasoline in San Diego was $4.37 this week, a jump of 86 cents -- or 25 percent -- in two-and-a-half months, according to the report.

The pain at the pump will force people to cut back on things such as coffee and fast food, the institute's Erik Bruvold said.

"Wherever in their household budgets they have what can be called 'discretionary spending,' (those are) likely the places families will make cutbacks to pay for the gasoline they are consuming,'' Bruvold said.

San Diego households spent 4.3 percent of their income on gas and motor oil in 2009-10, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The NUSIPR estimated that figure rose to 5.3 percent last year and to 6.2 percent this year.

Because San Diego has no petroleum industry to speak of, the money spent on gasoline goes out of town, Bruvold said.

NUSIPR earlier predicted the region's economy would grow by 1.9 percent this year but, if the fuel prices remain high, growth may be closer to 1.5 percent, Bruvold said.

He predicted people would make minor changes in driving habits to save fuel, but likely not enough to drive down demand and prices significantly.

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