Did your recent trip to the gas station feel like it took a higher toll than normal on your wallet? It probably wasn’t your imagination. Average gasoline prices in the United States increased by 5.1%, or 17 cents a gallon, during July, according to the AAA July 2012 Monthly Gas Price Report. This was the first monthly increase since March. It was also the highest increase in prices for the month of July since at least 2000 — the first year AAA began recording prices.
“Higher global oil prices and increased demand for gasoline during the busy summer driving season were the primary factors that sent pump prices higher in July,” AAA spokesman Avery Ash said in a statement. AAA went on to note than an increase in gas prices was due to “rising crude and ethanol prices, geopolitical concerns in the Middle East and mixed economic news surrounding the global economy.”
The price of gas has been rising across the country, but it varies vastly from state to state. Different factors play a role in determining a state’s average gas price, including taxes, production in the state and transportation costs. Based on the AAA report, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 11 states with the highest gas prices as of July 31.
In June, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 states with the lowest gas prices — four of them were located on the Gulf Coast. Production of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil, an increasingly cheaper form of crude oil, takes place primarily in the Gulf Coast region. None of the states on this list, however, are located in that region — most of them are in the northern U.S., the Northeast or outside the continental U.S., equating to high transportation costs for shipping oil.
Furthermore, states with the highest gas prices tend to have the highest gas taxes. Eight of the 11 states on this list were ranked in the top 10 in terms of gas taxes, which includes state excise taxes along with other state taxes and fees. While the average state tax in the U.S. is 30.5 cents a gallon, four of the states on this list cracked 40 cents a gallon. The notable outlier was Alaska, which despite coming in second for this list, charges only eight cents a gallon in taxes. That is lower than any other state on this list.
In compiling a list of the states with the highest gas prices, 24/7 Wall St. referred to daily data on gas prices provided by AAA. Besides the current gas prices, we looked at prices from a day ago, a week ago, a month ago and a year ago, along with the percentage change between now and a year ago. We considered current gas taxes with information provided by the American Petroleum Institute. We factored in the role of oil production by state as of the beginning of 2012, as measured by the Energy Information Administration. To get a sense of how gas prices lined up with other costs, we looked at a cost-of-living index provided by the Council for Community and Economic Research. Finally, we looked at the June unemployment rate provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as one way to gauge how well a state can handle its gas prices.
These are the 11 states with the highest gas prices.