For the first time, the average price of gas in the U.S. has topped $5, according to GasBuddy.
The gas price monitoring service, late Thursday, said its calculations showed the national average had topped the psychological barrier. AAA, however, still has prices hovering just below that mark. As of Friday morning, AAA reported the national average for a price of regular unleaded stood at $4.986.
While a penny doesn’t make much difference, both reporting sources agree: Prices will continue climbing as the summer driving season gets underway and oil prices continue to rise after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
While technically a new record, $5 is not the highest real dollar cost consumers have ever paid for gas, and we’ve got a way before we hit that. When adjusted for inflation, the cost of a gallon of gas from July 2008 ($4.144 at the time) works out to $5.37 in today’s dollars.
And a growing number of experts say we could soon be paying as much as $6 per gallon, a figure that California hit last month.
“It’s been one kink after another this year, and worst of all, demand doesn’t seem to be responding to the surge in gas prices, meaning there is a high probability that prices could go even higher in the weeks ahead,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy in a statement. “It’s a perfect storm of factors all aligning to create a rare environment of rapid price hikes. The situation could become even worse should there be any unexpected issues at the nation’s refineries or a major hurricane that impacts oil production or refineries this summer.”
The $5 mark is a big jump in a short period. A year ago, gas averages were just above the $3 mark. As recently as a month ago, they were in the $4.32 range. And it was just March 5 when prices topped $4 for the first time since 2008.
Oil prices have steadily increased, though, nearing $120 per barrel and the post-Memorial Day period always results in a surge in demand.
The $5 mark is a psychological one, but whether it will impact American driving habits remains to be seen. Odds are, it won’t.
“People are still fueling up, despite these high prices,” said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson, earlier this week. “At some point, drivers may change their daily driving habits or lifestyle due to these high prices, but we are not there yet.”
California remains the country’s most expensive market for gas, followed by Nevada and Hawaii.
And drivers who prefer higher grades of gas have been paying more than $5 for a while now. A mid-grade octane gallon topped $5 last week and premium hit that level a month ago.
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