US gasoline prices rising as summer driving season begins - EIA

Author: Lane Kelley


HOUSTON (ICIS)--US gasoline prices have increased steadily in every month this year, leading up to the start of the summer driving season, which kicks off with the Memorial Day three-day weekend. 25-27 May.

Prices at the pump across the US have increased by about 64 cents/gal in the first five months this year for about a 29% gain, based on data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The following tables shows prices of regulator gasoline in $/gal.

19-May 2.852
19-Apr 2.755
19-Mar 2.503
19-Feb 2.286
19-Jan 2.214

That gain is above average, but it is a recurring trend. US gasoline prices have increased since the first of January through the end of May in 23 of the past 25 years, according to EIA data, as the following chart shows. The two exceptions occurred in 1997-98.

Source: EIA

The average US gasoline price this Memorial Day, $2.85/gal for regular, is close to the average price this time last year ($2.88), according to the EIA.

A gas price expert with the American Automobile Association (AAA), Jeanette Casselano, said the stability of fuel prices over the past year gives an economic edge to car trips.

“Overall, prices are very similar to this time last year and, like then, drivers aren’t letting that deter them from taking summer road trips,” Casselano said.

However, the national average price is available in only about a dozen states in the Northeast, Midwest and western parts of the country.

The highest gasoline prices in the US are in California ($4.01) and Pennsylvania ($3.02), according to AAA. The lowest are in the four Gulf coast states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama ($2.45-2.55).

While drivers are paying more to fill up their vehicles at the gas pump, prices are lower for car rentals and hotels this Memorial Day.

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, car rental prices have declined 7% compared with last year, with an average daily rate of $55. Mid-range hotels are 2-3% cheaper this year, with an average nightly rate of $146 and $183, respectively, for AAA Two and Three Diamond Rated properties.

Airfares are holding steady compared with last Memorial Day, for an average round-trip price of $171.

Image above shows traffic. Source: Shutterstock