Per-capita gas consumption 2009Hot off the presses, Sightline has a new report today: Shifting Gears: Despite struggling economy, Northwest gasoline use ticks up.

Northwest consumers bucked a decade-long trend last year. In spite of the worst economy in recent history, we bought more gasoline per capita than the year before.

It was mainly a story about prices. By 2009, retail gasoline prices had fallen dramatically from the heights reached during the summer of 2008. So even in the face of falling employment and income, low prices meant more to Northwest drivers than light wallets.

The trend was especially pronounced in British Columbia, where per capita sales jumped up by nearly 10 percent—the largest year-over-year increase in at least three decades. One contributing factor was probably the economic activity preceding the 2010 Winter Olympics.

You can find the full “Shifting Gears” report here, including state-by-state analysis.