A business lobby group says many families see rising fuel prices as the most serious problem they face as the recession takes hold.
An economic performance survey for the Business Council for Sustainable Development suggests more than three quarters of people rate the price of fuel as very worrying.
Chief executive Peter Neilson says fewer than half of those surveyed say they are concerned about their employment prospects.
Despite the relief brought by low interest rates and tax cuts, He says consumers are still feeling exposed to fluctuations in fuel prices.
The monthly survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.8 percentange points.
New Zealand has been in recession since April 2008.