The oil and gas sector reclaimed the ignoble crown by surpassing even the federal government as the country’s most loathed business sector.
In last year’s annual Gallup poll, which gauges American public sentiment of various industries, the federal government was named least-liked while oil and gas ceded the “bottom” slot for the first time in a decade.
But spikes in petrol prices in 2012 and the perception of a shoddy environmental record likely pushed the oil and gas industry back into the realms of public distaste, Gallup said.
“The cause of the oil and gas industry’s bad image is most likely the frequent and sometimes inexplicably large spikes in the price of gas,” Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport wrote in a statement. “At the time of this survey, in fact, the price of gas was on the rise.”
He added: “Plus, the oil and gas industry may get dinged by some Americans for its perceived poor environmental record.”
The American Petroleum Institute did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The oil and gas industry actually made up ground in the minds of Americans this year, notching a “positive” rating of 22%, an improvement over last year’s 20% positive.
At the same time, the industry’s “negative” rating fell to 61%, down from 64% a year ago. These results barely edged out the federal government, which posted a positive rating of 23% and a negative rating of 60%, down from 17% and 63% last year, respectively.
Other industries evoking American ire included banking, real estate and airlines.
The computer, restaurant and internet industries all held on to their positions as most liked by the public.
The poll, released earlier this month, was conducted 9-12 August. The results were based on 1012 telephone interviews with randomly selected people aged 18 or older in all 50 states. The margin of error was plus/minus 4 percentage points.