Gasoline prices at the pump seemed to be fairly stable ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, according to an Energy Information Administration report released early last week. It had the national average price for regular gasoline pegged at $3.665 per gallon. And GasBuddy now puts the national average at $3.634, up from $3.626 a week ago, but down from $3.663 a year ago.
More than 36 million people are expected to hit the road in the United States this long, holiday weekend. That means a lot of tanks will need to be filled up.
The day before Memorial Day, GasBuddy lists the following as the 10 states with the lowest average price for a gallon of regular.
- Oklahoma, $3.371
- Louisiana, $3.375
- Arkansas, $3.377
- Mississippi, $3.382
- Montana, $3.392
- Colorado, $3.403
- Kansas, $3.413
- New Mexico, $3.415
- Missouri, $3.421
- Texas, $3.430
Many of the states with the cheapest gas, not surprisingly, have a great deal of refining capacity of their own, or are in close proximity to states that have high capacity. Texas and Louisiana have the largest and second-largest refining capacities in the country, respectively. Many of the nation’s largest refineries can be found near the Gulf of Mexico.
However, oil-producing states like North Dakota, with its huge shale deposits, do not benefit because they are too far away from refineries.
The regional cost of living is another factor that may potentially affect the cost of gas. Last year, the Council for Community and Economic Research found that the relative cost of consumer goods in states with cheaper gas is lower than the U.S. average. Mississippi, which has the fourth lowest average gas prices, had the lowest overall cost of living in the nation.
The weather is nice and economic conditions are improving. Unemployment has not been lower in five years. Gross domestic product has improved, at least in most recent quarters. And millions of Americans have new cars. Why would they leave them in the garage?
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