WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Facing a slowing economy and higher prices at the pump, American households have curbed their consumption of gasoline in recent months. 

During the first half of 2007, motor gasoline consumption was up by 0.9 percent compared with the same period the previous year. But, during the second half of 2007, gasoline consumption declined by 0.1 percent from the year before, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported this week.

In fact, fourth-quarter consumption fell by 0.4 percent. The drop in gasoline consumption is the first since the recession of 2000.

The first quarter of 2008 continued to show an even sharper decline in consumption of 0.6 percent compared to the same period in 2007. Real personal disposable income rose only an estimated 0.9 percent in the first quarter and regular grade gasoline retail prices rose an estimated 32 percent (from an average $2.36 per gallon a year ago to an average $3.11 per gallon this year), EIA said.