Image of Oil and Gas Industry Takes Another Hit This Year

by Joseph Carroll

Americans' views of industries affected by higher gas prices also suffer

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- The restaurant and computer industries continue to rank at the top of Gallup's annual ratings of various business and industry sectors in the country, while the oil and gas industry continues to rank at the bottom. The public image of several industries linked to higher gas prices over the past year -- the oil and gas industry, the electric and gas utilities, the automobile industry, and the airline industry -- suffered significantly this year. In fact, the public's assessment of the oil and gas industry, the electric and gas utilities, and the automobile industry, as well as ratings of the federal government, education, and the real estate industry all reached new low points this year; views of the sports industry and banking reached new high points this year.

Overall Results

The August 7-10, 2006, Gallup poll asked Americans whether they have a very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative, or very negative opinion about 25 business and industry sectors in the United States.

The following results are based on the net score for each business and industry sector, which is calculated by subtracting the percentage saying very negative or somewhat negative from the percentage saying very positive or somewhat positive for each sector. The results show that Americans view 17 business sectors more positively than negatively and the remaining eight more negatively than positively.

Business and Industry Sector Ratings, Aug. 7-10, 2006

Total
positive

Neutral

Total
negative

Net
positive

%

%

%

Restaurant industry

65

25

9

+56

Computer industry

60

26

9

+51

Retail industry

53

33

11

+42

Farming and agriculture

56

25

15

+41

Grocery industry

55

29

14

+41

Banking

56

25

17

+39

Accounting

42

41

11

+31

Travel industry

46

34

17

+29

Internet industry

50

24

22

+28

Publishing industry

44

33

19

+25

Sports industry

45

24

27

+18

Real estate industry

42

31

25

+17

Telephone industry

43

25

31

+12

Automobile industry

39

27

32

+7

Television and radio industry

41

22

36

+5

Education

41

19

38

+3

Airline industry

33

32

31

+2

Movie industry

34

26

38

-4

Advertising/Public relations industry

33

27

38

-5

Pharmaceutical industry

39

15

45

-6

Healthcare industry

35

17

46

-11

The legal field

27

27

44

-17

Electric and gas utilities

28

20

51

-23

The federal government

25

23

50

-25

Oil and gas industry

15

7

77

-62

At the top of the list is the restaurant industry, with a net positive score of +56, followed closely by the computer industry, at +51. Eleven industries receive net positive scores of +10 or better: the retail industry (+42); farming and agriculture (+41); the grocery industry (+41); banking (+39); accounting (+31); the travel industry (+29); the Internet industry (+28); the publishing industry (+25); the sports industry (+18); the real estate industry (+17); and the telephone industry (+12). Four other industries are barely in positive territory, with net scores below +10: the automobile industry (+7), television and radio (+5), education (+3), and the airlines (+2).

At the other end of the spectrum, due undoubtedly to the higher price of gasoline over the past year, the oil and gas industry ranks at the bottom of the list, with a net negative score of -62. This is followed by the federal government (-25), the electric and gas utilities (-23), the legal field (-17), and the healthcare industry (-11). The pharmaceutical industry, the advertising and public relations industry, and the movie industry receive mildly negative scores.

Gallup first started asking the question in 2001, and over the years, the industries ranking at the top and bottom of the list have remained fairly consistent. The restaurant industry and the computer industry have alternated or tied as the most favorably viewed industry sector each year. The oil and gas industry has always ranked at the bottom of the list. Other industry sectors scoring poorly each year include the healthcare industry, the legal field, and the federal government.

Image of Seven Business Sectors Down This Year

Over the past year, the price of gasoline has been a significant problem facing the nation, according to the American public. In early August 2005, when Gallup last asked Americans to rate various industry sectors, the average price of a gallon of gasoline nationwide was $2.32. This increased to a high of $3.03 per gallon following Hurricane Katrina last September and has fluctuated ever since, settling at the current nationwide average of $2.95 per gallon.

It is not surprising, then, that Americans' image of four industries most closely associated with these higher gas prices -- the electric and gas utilities, the oil and gas industry, the automobile industry, and the airline industry -- suffered this year.

The net image score for the electric and gas utilities dropped 21 points over the past year, the largest drop measured in the poll, from -2 to -23. Views of the sector have been much more positive in the past, with a high of +14 in 2003. The current image ratings are slightly lower than the previous low of -16 from Gallup's survey in 2001.

Americans' ratings of the oil and gas industry also declined significantly this year, from a net negative score of -42 last year to -62 this year. This is the most negative rating for the oil and gas industry (as well as any other industry ever tested) that Gallup has measured since 2001.

Although its image is still positive, views of the automobile industry have reached a new low, down from +16 last year to +7 this year. The image of this business sector was highest in 2003, with +33, before gradually declining in the years since.

The public's image of the airline industry also declined nine points this year, from +11 last year to +2. Views of the airline industry were at roughly the same level in 2002, but were more positive in 2003 and 2004.

Corruption and scandals in Washington over the past year further deteriorated Americans' ratings of the federal government. In fact, each year, views of the federal government have gotten worse, starting from a high of +6 in 2003 (the first year Gallup included this on the list of industry sectors) to the new low of -25.

Americans' ratings of two other business sectors reached new lows this year -- education and real estate. The net image score for education dropped from +23 in 2005 (the highest image score over the past five years for this sector) to +3 currently. Since 2001, the net score for education averaged +15. The net positive score for the real estate industry is now +17, down slightly from +23 last year. The highest score for the real estate industry was +35 in 2003, and the average is +27 since 2001.

Image of Sports, Banking, Pharmaceutical Industries Up This Year

The public's ratings of the sports industry increased the most this year and there were also significant increases in ratings of the banking and the pharmaceutical industries.

Business and Industry Sector Ratings with Increases This Year, Based on Net Score
(% Positive Minus % Negative)

Net score
2006

Net score
2005

Difference

Highest

Lowest

Average

Sports

+18

-5

+23

+18

-5

+7

Banking

+39

+24

+15

+39

+22

+29

Pharmaceuticals

-6

-18

+12

+5

-18

-8

Ratings of the sports industry increased from -5 in 2005 to +18 in the current poll. These represent both the high and low points for this sector, with the average net rating over the past five years at +7.

Views of the banking industry also reached a new high this year, at +39, up from a +24 last year. The lowest rating for the banking industry was +22 in 2002, and the average score is +29.

The image of the pharmaceutical industry improved 12 points this year, though opinions of this industry are still more negative than positive. Last year's -18 rating was the lowest for this sector, while the highest, +5, came in 2003. Since 2001, the average rating for this industry is -8.

Survey Methods

The latest results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,007 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted August 7-10, 2006. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

27. On another subject, for each of the following business sectors in the United States, please say whether your overall view of it is very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative or very negative. How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?

BASED ON 486 NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A

A. Accounting

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

8

34

41

7

4

6

2005 Aug 8-11

9

33

40

11

3

4

2004 Aug 9-11

6

29

45

12

3

5

2003 Aug 4-6

8

37

37

10

4

4

2002 Aug 5-8

7

24

32

19

12

6

2001 Aug 16-19

10

37

40

7

1

5

B. Farming and agriculture

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

20

36

25

13

2

4

2005 Aug 8-11

22

36

27

10

3

2

2004 Aug 9-11

19

31

34

9

3

4

2003 Aug 4-6

17

35

27

16

4

1

2002 Aug 5-8

16

35

28

12

4

5

2001 Aug 16-19

23

36

24

10

5

2

C. Automobile industry

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

11

28

27

24

8

2

2005 Aug 8-11

10

32

29

19

7

3

2004 Aug 9-11

11

33

29

17

7

3

2003 Aug 4-6

12

40

27

14

5

2

2002 Aug 5-8

10

36

31

12

7

4

2001 Aug 16-19

11

34

28

20

6

1

D. Electric and gas utilities

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

6

22

20

30

21

1

2005 Aug 8-11

11

25

24

26

12

2

2004 Aug 9-11

8

24

29

26

12

1

2003 Aug 4-6

12

33

23

21

10

1

2002 Aug 5-8

9

27

27

24

11

2

2001 Aug 16-19

9

22

21

30

17

1

E. Oil and gas industry

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

5

10

7

28

49

1

2005 Aug 8-11

9

11

17

27

35

1

2004 Aug 9-11

6

15

18

35

23

3

2003 Aug 4-6

9

26

22

29

14

*

2002 Aug 5-8

6

19

28

28

16

3

2001 Aug 16-19

7

17

21

33

21

1

F. Banking

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

15

41

25

14

3

2

2005 Aug 8-11

12

34

31

18

4

1

2004 Aug 9-11

15

31

34

14

3

3

2003 Aug 4-6

13

39

26

15

5

2

2002 Aug 5-8

12

34

29

17

7

1

2001 Aug 16-19

12

35

31

13

7

2

G. Restaurant industry

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

18

47

25

8

1

1

2005 Aug 8-11

14

44

31

6

2

3

2004 Aug 9-11

15

43

32

6

1

3

2003 Aug 4-6

15

51

25

6

2

1

2002 Aug 5-8

16

45

28

7

1

3

2001 Aug 16-19

15

47

28

6

2

2

H. Grocery industry

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

18

37

29

11

3

2

2005 Aug 8-11

17

41

27

11

4

*

2004 Aug 9-11

14

38

31

13

2

2

2003 Aug 4-6

16

47

24

8

4

1

2002 Aug 5-8

18

40

25

13

3

1

2001 Aug 16-19

18

39

29

11

2

1

I. Healthcare industry

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

11

24

17

29

17

2

2005 Aug 8-11

12

20

16

32

18

2

2004 Aug 9-11

10

23

16

33

17

1

2003 Aug 4-6

11

31

12

28

17

1

2002 Aug 5-8

10

20

19

32

17

2

2001 Aug 16-19

11

26

19

29

15

*

* = Less than 0.5%

J. Internet industry

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

18

32

24

16

6

4

2005 Aug 8-11

15

31

27

18

4

5

2004 Aug 9-11

16

29

26

15

7

7

2003 Aug 4-6

16

35

25

15

5

4

2002 Aug 5-8

14

29

26

16

5

10

2001 Aug 16-19

14

30

26

20

7

3

K. The legal field

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

8

19

27

29

15

2

2005 Aug 8-11

7

20

24

30

17

2

2004 Aug 9-11

6

21

28

27

15

3

2003 Aug 4-6

8

28

24

24

14

2

2002 Aug 5-8

4

18

35

24

15

4

2001 Aug 16-19

7

22

24

28

17

2

L. Advertising and public relations industry

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

6

27

27

27

11

2

2005 Aug 8-11

9

21

32

27

8

3

2004 Aug 9-11

8

25

32

21

11

3

2003 Aug 4-6

9

32

29

19

8

3

2002 Aug 5-8

7

24

34

23

9

3

2001 Aug 16-19

10

28

28

23

9

2

M. Television and radio industry

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

11

30

22

26

10

1

2005 Aug 8-11

12

23

25

26

12

2

2004 Aug 9-11

12

25

25

27

10

1

2003 Aug 4-6

11

34

24

23

8

*

2002 Aug 5-8

11

31

24

23

9

2

2001 Aug 16-19

11

31

22

24

12

*

* = Less than 0.5%

N. Movie industry

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

9

25

26

25

13

2

2005 Aug 8-11

11

22

25

27

12

3

2004 Aug 9-11

10

27

26

20

13

4

2003 Aug 4-6

12

30

25

19

12

2

2002 Aug 5-8

12

22

27

22

13

4

2001 Aug 16-19

9

24

23

24

17

3

O. Sports industry

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

14

31

24

18

9

4

2005 Aug 8-11

13

20

26

24

14

3

2004 Aug 9-11

12

27

26

22

10

3

2003 Aug 4-6

16

28

26

18

9

3

2002 Aug 5-8

15

20

28

22

11

4

2001 Aug 16-19

14

24

28

21

12

1

P. Publishing industry

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

12

32

33

13

6

4

2005 Aug 8-11

10

32

35

14

6

3

2004 Aug 9-11

10

31

36

14

5

4

2003 Aug 4-6

12

34

37

11

4

2

2002 Aug 5-8

8

30

37

15

5

5

2001 Aug 16-19

12

35

32

13

5

3

Q. Pharmaceutical industry

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

12

27

15

24

21

1

2005 Aug 8-11

10

19

22

25

22

2

2004 Aug 9-11

9

22

19

31

17

2

2003 Aug 4-6

12

31

18

22

16

1

2003 Aug 5-8

11

22

22

25

18

2

2001 Aug 16-19

12

27

22

24

14

1

R. Real estate industry

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

9

33

31

19

6

2

2005 Aug 8-11

13

33

29

17

6

2

2004 Aug 9-11

15

32

31

15

4

3

2003 Aug 4-6

13

40

28

13

5

1

2002 Aug 5-8

12

35

32

13

4

4

2001 Aug 16-19

12

34

32

16

4

2

S. Education

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

9

32

19

27

11

2

2005 Aug 8-11

17

35

18

24

5

1

2004 Aug 9-11

12

33

21

25

7

2

2003 Aug 4-6

13

38

18

20

10

1

2002 Aug 5-8

12

35

16

27

9

1

2001 Aug 16-19

13

37

18

23

9

*

* = Less than 0.5%

T. Retail industry

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

12

41

33

9

2

3

2005 Aug 8-11

10

42

31

11

4

2

2004 Aug 9-11

11

43

31

11

2

2

2003 Aug 4-6

7

47

29

14

2

1

2002 Aug 5-8

12

42

30

11

2

3

2001 Aug 16-19

12

35

34

14

3

2

U. Travel industry

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

9

37

34

12

5

3

2005 Aug 8-11

12

36

35

10

3

4

2004 Aug 9-11

13

37

35

8

1

6

2003 Aug 4-6

9

40

33

11

4

3

2002 Aug 5-8

9

33

35

15

2

6

2001 Aug 16-19

11

39

35

11

2

2

V. Telephone industry

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

12

31

25

22

9

1

2005 Aug 8-11

13

27

31

21

6

2

2004 Aug 9-11

10

28

28

23

8

3

2003 Aug 4-6

11

32

26

20

10

1

2002 Aug 5-8

10

24

27

24

13

2

2001 Aug 16-19

10

29

24

27

10

*

* = Less than 0.5%

W. Airline industry

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

7

26

32

22

9

4

2005 Aug 8-11

6

32

32

21

6

3

2004 Aug 9-11

6

32

33

20

3

6

2003 Aug 4-6

6

31

30

24

7

2

2002 Aug 5-8

7

24

33

24

6

6

2001 Aug 16-19

10

27

29

23

7

4

X. Computer industry

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

22

38

26

6

3

5

2005 Aug 8-11

20

37

30

8

2

3

2004 Aug 9-11

20

40

26

6

2

6

2003 Aug 4-6

24

46

20

5

1

4

2002 Aug 5-8

20

42

24

5

4

5

2001 Aug 17-19 ^

27

40

20

9

1

3

^ Based on 326 national adults interviewed Aug. 17-19, 2001.

Y. Federal government

Very
positive

Somewhat
positive

Neutral

Somewhat
negative

Very
negative

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Aug 7-10

6

19

23

30

20

2

2005 Aug 8-11

6

27

20

31

14

2

2004 Aug 9-11

9

25

25

30

9

2

2003 Aug 4-6

9

32

23

22

13

1

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