Cheap oil doesn’t only mean cheaper gas in the tank.

It means that a car dealer in Illinois is shuffling the inventory of models he’ll be selling, that more students in Wisconsin may get school-provided iPads, that some planned projects in a Southern California city will get delayed, and that some expected oilfield hiring in North Dakota and Texas may not happen.

In ways large and small, plummeting oil prices are now reverberating through businesses, towns, schools and family budgets, causing confusion and changing plans. With prices having fallen by nearly half in just six months, the potential impact has been sudden and wide ranging.

“I’m always chasing my tail,” said Ron Hicks, who has sold cars for 10 years in Galesburg, Illinois, and overall for 38 years, and suddenly finds himself with too many smaller fuel-efficient cars on his City Select lot when trucks and sports cars might sell better. “I need to be smarter even than I’ve been in the past. I need to find the balance.”

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