By DAN MCCALEB
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – In what has become a seemingly every day occurrence, gas prices rose to a new record high Sunday as the national average approaches $5 a gallon.
Nine states already have surpassed the $5 threshold, and several others are just pennies away.
According to AAA, the average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline reached $4.85 Sunday, up an additional three cents from Saturday and 24 cents from last week.
Motorists in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon and Washington are now paying more than $5 a gallon. In California, it’s $6.326, the only state so far to reach that peak, while in Santa Barbara County, the average is $6.268.
If recent trends continue – and there’s no reason to think they won’t – several other states will join the $5 club soon, including Indiana, Pennsylvania, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and others.
A month ago, the average cost of a gallon of gas across the U.S. was $4.25. A year ago, it was $3.05. Prices have risen $1.80 a gallon on average since then.
Diesel gas prices also hit a new record Sunday, reaching a national average price of $5.64. Rising energy costs are in part driving 40-year-high inflation, where the cost of everything, from food to clothing to other household items, are rising.
As gas prices rise, consumer consumption is dropping. Consumption has declined at a rate of 3% to 5% the past seven weeks, according to DataTrek, suggesting that the high costs are affecting consumer’s behavior.
“According to GasBuddy data, weekly US gasoline demand fell 2.3% from the prior week and was 1.5% below the rolling four week average,” Patrick De Haan of GasBuddy tweeted Sunday.
“Americans will be spending $94 million more on gasoline today compared to just a week ago,” Mr. DeHaan also tweeted. “We’re spending $1.82 billion on gasoline every 24 hours.”
News-Press Associate Editor Matt Smolensky contributed to this report.