The national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline broke the $5 barrier for the first time, AAA said Saturday,
OPIS, an energy-data and analytics provider, said the record high was set as U.S. consumer inflation hit its highest level in 40 years and crude oil prices remain high, The Wall Street Journal reported. Energy costs rose by 3.9% from April to May, according to The Washington Post. Overall, energy prices have jumped by 35% since last year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said in a report that was released Friday. Inflation rose to 8.6% in May, the highest rate in 40 years.
The national average price for gasoline has risen 19 cents in the past week and is $1.93 higher than it was at this time last year, The Associated Press reported.
According to AAA, California has the highest average price, at $6.43 — up from $5.85 last month — while Mississippi has the lowest average at $4.52.
For consumers buying higher-grade gasoline, the prices have also soared. The average for mid-grade stood at $5.371 per gallon, according to AAA. Premium gasoline was at $5.666 per gallon and diesel topped $5.765.
GasBuddy, which also tracks gasoline prices, put the national average for regular unleaded at $5.01.
Shenetha James, a mother of four children in Jackson, Mississippi, said she has not seen her eldest daughter, who lives 700 miles away in North Carolina, since Christmas due to high gas prices.
“It’s been kind of hard not being able to really be there,” James told The Wall Street Journal. “We’ve got to manage this gas to get from one pay period to another.”
While the $5 average was reached for the first time nationally, it is not a record when inflation is taken into account, the AP reported. Gas peaked at $4.11 a gallon in July 2008, which would be the equivalent of $5.40 a gallon today.
Americans typically drive more starting around Memorial Day, increasing the demand for gasoline, according to the AP. Global oil prices are rising in part because of sanctions against Russia since it invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Sanctions against Russia have compounded the problem.
“People are still fueling up, despite these high prices,” Andrew Gross, a spokesman at AAA, told The Wall Street Journal. “At some point, drivers may change their daily driving habits or lifestyle due to these high prices, but we are not there yet.”
A barrel of crude oil topped $120 a barrel, according to CNN. The price was less than $100 last month.
The demand for gas continues to rise, and the cost of a gallon of gasoline could rise even higher this summer.
“Anything goes from June 20 to Labor Day,” Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis for OPIS, told CNN. “Come hell or high gas prices, people are going to take vacations.”
That includes Chris Stevenson, 24, of New Jersey, who said he is going to ignore the higher prices for as long as possible.
“I don’t care about the gas. I’m doing a lot of trips,” Stevenson told The Wall Street Journal while filling up at a New York City station on Friday, where the average price was $5.18 on Friday. “It’s summertime, so you know, we have to be outside.”.
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