Oil Sets New Record; Drivers Go Into Hock Crude oil prices hit another record Friday, at $75 a barrel. Gasoline prices are also climbing, as well. While for most Americans the rising cost of gasoline is just an annoyance, evidence suggests that some drivers are beginning to sell personal valuables just to keep their gas tanks full.
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Oil Sets New Record; Drivers Go Into Hock

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Oil Sets New Record; Drivers Go Into Hock

Oil Sets New Record; Drivers Go Into Hock

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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSDIERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

Crude oil prices hit another record today, over $75.00 a barrel. Gasoline prices are also climbing and that hits some people harder than others as NPR's Scott Horsley found out.

SCOTT HORSLEY: One very visible sign of the price of gasoline hangs outside a filling station in San Diego, it says $3.29 a gallon. A somewhat less visible sign is across the street, inside Harry Jernigan's pawnshop.

BLOCK: People come in every day, they're trying to pawn tools, jewelry, electronics, anything just to get 15, 20 bucks to put in their gas tank.

HORSLEY: Jernigan says most of those pawning valuables are just trying to make it through to payday. About a third never come back to claim their items, so if Jernigan doesn't think he can resell what they're offering he has to turn people away.

BLOCK: I don't know what to tell them. You know, I'd like to be able to say well get a car that gets better mileage or, but, you know, a lot of them, they don't have the money just to go buy a different car.

HORSLEY: For all the complaints about high gasoline prices, most Americans spend a smaller chunk of their paychecks on gas today than a generation ago. That's one reason demand for gas is still climbing. But for those who are barely making ends meet and extra 10 or 20 dollars a tank makes a big difference. Sylvia Velasquez(ph) hears that from people borrowing money at her Payday Loans store.

BLOCK: They don't come in here anymore to say okay, it's the weekend and I want to have a little extra money. No, I need to have extra money for gas.

HORSLEY: Adding insult to injury, the payday loan carries an interest rate of more than 400 percent. Forecasters say gasoline prices are likely to keep rising, at least for the next couple of weeks. That probably won't mean any less business at the gas station, but it could mean more business for pawnbrokers like Jernigan.

BLOCK: If gas goes up another dollar they'll be in here like flies on a watermelon looking for money.

HORSLEY: Scott Horsley, NPR News, San Diego.

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