Survey: gas prices change the commute

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These past two weeks, I’ve been saving a boatload of money. How? I’m working from home. True, the primary reason is to better accommodate my acute hugeness of gut as I hover like a freak-show bumblebee near my due date. But my telecommuting stint coincides very nicely with the startling spike in gas prices.

I speculated in an earlier post that gas prices could finally bring about the long-discussed revolution in how we work. A new survey by Robert Half International supports my thesis: 44% of workers said higher gas prices are forcing them to change their commuting habits, up from 34% a year ago.

Among those who said they have altered their work arrangements, the most common changes they reported include:

• increased carpooling or ridesharing (46%);
• driving a more fuel-efficient vehicle (33%);
• telecommuting more frequently (33%).

Other changes:

• three in 10 said they are looking for a new job closer to home;
• working from office locations closer to home (29%);
• working fewer days of the week (26%);
• asking for increased compensation (25%);
• taking public transportation more frequently (23%);
• walking or biking to work (18%);
• driving more conscientiously (e.g., slower) (5%);
• cutting back on spending (2%).

Respondents who said their commutes have not been affected by rising gas prices were asked how much more per-gallon gas prices would have to rise before impacting their work arrangements. The mean response was $1.14.

Wow. So, for the over half of workers who say gas prices haven’t changed their commutes, we need to hit five bucks per gallon at the pump before they’ll consider alternatives to wheeling their SUVs to the office.

Are employers helping out at all? Though 59% of workers said no, those whose bosses are lending a hand say they’re doing so with “mileage reimbursement for travel, ridesharing or vanpooling programs and subsidized transportation.”

Have higher gas prices changed your commute?