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      Economic future bears uncertainty

      Amarillo's economy continues to be on the rise, but the national outlook may not share the same increase in 2012.

      Though some economists disagree, many are predicting gas prices could go up to $5 per gallon this year. That would put a hold on many summer travelers, putting a damper on summer economics.

      "You can always have another terrorist attack, you can have an unbelievable spike in oil prices- there's a lot of war tensions out there right now," Wood Financial Owner Steve Wood stated. "We've got situations in Iran that could cause oil prices to go up."

      Aside from the gas issue, another problem the Panhandle has faced is the worst drought on record. Last year's cattle and hay prices increased dramatically, putting farmers and ranchers at great risk.

      "This is having a dramatic effect on that section of the economy and I think it'll probably continue that until we get some relief from the drought," Wood said.

      Fortunately for Texans, the ever-so-popular oil and gas industry has helped.

      "We've seen retail grow pretty good in Amarillo and in Texas as a whole," Wood said. "The big one is oil and gas right now. We're seeing a pretty good oil and gas boom in parts of the Texas Panhandle and that's really leading to some job growth, as well."

      Though things are looking up in the Lone Star State right now, Wood advises everyone prepare for the unexpected.

      "Don't get into debt. If the economy suffers, you suffer. So, don't use your credit card. Try to pay cash for a lot of things. Continue to save, continue to put back like you always should and that way you've got something to fall back on if the economy falters."