As gas prices and food prices soar and housing prices plummet average Americans are increasingly worried about their finances. According to a new report, economists who work for US businesses are also concerned. The National Association of Business Economists finds these insiders have become increasingly negative about the economy. Nearly all those questioned believe the housing slowdown will continue over the next six months. And for the first time since 2003, more businesses reported profits falling than rising. It's a vicious cycle because as businesses start feeling the pinch, that means higher everyday prices for all of us. Despite gas prices hitting a national average -- and record high -- of $3.50 a gallon, a new report shows American drivers aren't cutting back on filling up. Over the past four years drivers have had a difficult time reducing their time at the pump. Long commutes, along with a lack of mass transit and fuel-efficient vehicles are factors. Local drivers say while prices are on the rise, they still need to get where they're going. Driver Gregory Tucker said, "People now have to budget their money a little more to get the gas prices they're paying. You've got to do something but you've got to travel so you gotta get gas one way or another." The study sites American's need for oil and their inability to change their fuel consumption behaviors. Perhaps a direct result of high gas prices, hybrid sales are skyrocketing. A research firm that watches the auto industry says sales of the fuel-efficient vehicles were up 38 percent in the US last year, with the Toyota Prius leading the way. That being said, hybrids still make up just two percent of the overall US market share.
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