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Falling Gas Prices Fueling Las Vegas Economy

Falling gas prices are letting Las Vegas residents keep more money in their pockets.

AAA says local prices for regular unleaded are averaging $2.19 a gallon down a $1.05 from a year ago.

That means, if you drive a thousand miles a month and your car averages 20 miles per gallon, that’s $52.50 a month in savings.

Over the year, that’s $630. For many locals, that’s comparable to getting a free month’s rent or a gambling weekend at a locals casino.

So what are consumers doing with the money they save on gas? And is Las Vegas the beneficiary of people’s wallets that are flush with cash?

For a broader look at the impact lower gas prices is having on the economy, we thought we’d turn to Beacon Economics economist Christopher Thornberg.

"Whenever gas prices start to drop, one of the big impacts is not people taking another vacation or buying a little more of this and that," Thornberg told KNPR. "but a lot of times they hang up the Prius and go out and buy the Hummer. You are already starting to see that movement where people are shifting toward these bigger, more luxurious vehicles."

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Thornberg said more pickup trucks and larger vehicles on the road ultimately will consume a lot of that savings we are seeing at the pump. When asked if now was the time to raise the tax on a gallon of  gasoline, Thornberg said it "is a great idea."

He said the added revenue would allow us "to invest in new technologies and infrastructure."

"Now, I understand that is going to take away some of they  guy standing next to the $1.99 sign with a selfie, but from a public policy perspective, it's a wise thing to move in that direction," Thornberg said.

GUEST:

Christopher Thornberg, economist, Beacon Economics in Los Angeles 

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Christopher Thornberg, economist, Beacon Economics in Los Angeles 

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