Energy Economy

US Gas Prices Lower for Fifth Consecutive Week

Paul Ausick

The national average price for regular gasoline slipped by 3.5 cents per gallon last week to reach $2.60, according to industry analysts at GasBuddy. Three weeks ago, the average was $2.73 a gallon.

Last week’s national average was the lowest price yet this summer and the lowest since March. The lowest price so far this year was posted in January, at $2.23 a gallon, so prices remain about 17% above that level.

Crude oil traded at around $55.70 a barrel in the noon hour Monday. Over the past month, the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for immediate delivery has dipped by about $2.90 a barrel (about 5%). The U.S. president’s decision to forestall imposing new tariffs on Chinese goods has raised hopes that the global economy will improve, and with it the fortunes of oil traders.

GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, Patrick DeHaan, noted, “For a surprising fifth straight week, the national average has declined, ushering in lower gas prices to every state and providing relief to consumers who’ve watched the stock market tank, but for the same reason oil prices have plunged. … As the summer draws to a close, the declines may slow down as new signs from both the U.S. and China show a less aggressive tone regarding trade, but we’ll have to see if that materializes into something concrete in the weeks ahead. For now I believe we’ll see more moves to the downside in most states as the national average continues to move to fresh summer lows as Labor Day approaches.”

Nearly every state saw a decline in the average price of a gallon of gas last week. The week’s median price for a gallon of regular gas was $2.51, nine cents below the average. The average price at the 10% of gas stations charging the most for gas was $3.47 a gallon (down six cents week over week), while the average at the 10% charging the least was $2.14 (down five cents).

Compared with the prior week, the five states where drivers are paying the most for gas are Hawaii ($3.80, up a penny), California ($3.65, down three cents), Nevada ($3.21, down 14 cents), Washington ($3.17, up a penny) and Alaska ($3.10, six cents lower). Oregon is the only other state where gas currently costs more than $3 a gallon.

The five states where gas is cheapest are Mississippi ($2.22, down four cents), Louisiana ($2.22, six cents lower), Alabama ($2.26, down five cents), South Carolina ($2.26, also down a nickel) and Arkansas ($2.28, down three cents). In some of these states, low gas prices are partially attributable to lower than average taxes. Here is a full list of the states with the highest and lowest gas taxes.

GasBuddy expects price declines to slow down this week, with small price increases to appear in 10% to 25% of the states.