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Gas prices a 'hardship' for majority in U.S.

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(CNN) -- Gas prices are causing financial hardship for a majority of Americans, according to a poll released Monday.

Fifteen percent of respondents said the current price of gas -- averaging about $2.22 per gallon of self-serve regular -- is causing them "serious hardship" that jeopardizes their standard of living, while 43 percent described "moderate hardship," the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll said.

Less than half -- 42 percent -- said gas prices are causing them "no hardship."

Gallup has done similar polls each spring since 2000 and never found more than 49 percent reporting financial hardship due to gas prices.

The 58 percent who report that gas prices are causing them financial hardship of any sort was an increase from 49 percent last spring and 39 percent in 2000, the poll reported.

Seven in 10 respondents said they shop for the cheapest prices when they are planning to fill up, and 57 percent said they have considered a more fuel-efficient model the next time they buy an automobile.

Forty-eight percent said gas prices have caused them to cut back on their driving, about the same percentage who said that last June (45 percent), when the national average cost of a gallon of self-serve gas hovered around $2.

Six in 10 respondents said gas prices have not led them to cut back on household spending.

Though current prices are at an all-time high in absolute terms, they are not near the peak if adjusted for inflation.

That occurred in March 1981, when the Iranian revolution set off skyrocketing prices.

The poll, conducted by telephone April 1-2 with 1,040 adult Americans, has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.

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