NEW YORK -- As unrest in the Middle East shows little sign of cooling, the price of a barrel of oil continues to climb, raising transportation and heating costs in turn. Already, Americans have cut back on spending, and small businesses have scrapped plans to hire new workers.
And the pain could get worse as rising energy costs begin to threaten a sector that's already taken a historic beating in recent years: the housing market.
The prospect of a much more expensive commute is beginning to make suburbia look less appealing. As demand for such homes weakens, economists worry that growth in the real estate market -- and the broader economic recovery -- could be stopped in its tracks.