Gasoline prices in the United States have made an extraordinary run higher, and crude oil prices have skyrocketed well above $100 a barrel. The average price of a gallon of regular gas hit $4.57, up from $3.04 a year ago.
There is unlikely to be any relief in the near future. Oil has hit $114 a barrel and continues to rise. Much of the surge can be blamed on sanctions that have kept Russian oil out of many markets, including most of Europe. OPEC nations have declined to increase production. The United States has released millions of barrels from its Strategic Petroleum Reserves, but that has not made a dent in oil prices.
Gas prices have risen above the $4 a gallon average in every state. Even the Gulf states, which usually have lower prices, have per-gallon costs of over $4.10. For example, the price in Texas is $4.26 and in Louisiana at $4.20.
The average price for a gallon of regular gas in California has risen to $6.02. This state usually has the most expensive gas. It is far from the refineries along the Gulf of Mexico. Its gasoline tax is also the highest among all states at $0.6698 a gallon. While there has been some discussion about temporarily eliminating the gas tax, those talks have gone nowhere.
One problem high gas prices cause is a decline in discretionary consumer spending, which is an engine of many industries. Middle-class and lower-class families face the need to cut back on spending for many of the items they might buy because the portion of the family budget that goes to driving has swelled.
As the federal government releases figures on housing, consumer sales and retail sales, they will show want kind of damage high gas prices have caused.
Click here to see which states have the highest gas taxes.
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