Gas Prices Continue to Swing Upward as Labor Day Nears
WASHINGTON, D.C. — After dropping for two months, prices as the gas pumps are on the rise heading into Labor Day weekend, according to the AAA Newsroom. The national average price for regular gasoline has risen for 15 days.
The national average price of $2.22 per gallon as of Aug. 29 is an increase of 6 cents per gallon, vs. one week ago and 8 cents per gallon compared to one month ago. Despite this increase, drivers are paying 27 cents less than they did at the same time last year, and are on track to pay the lowest Labor Day gas prices since 2004.
An AAA survey shows that 55 percent of Americans say they are more likely to take a road trip this year due to lower gas prices, and the Oil Price Information Service projects that Americans will buy approximately 400 million gallons of gasoline each day over Labor Day weekend, at an aggregate cost of about $880 million per day. While the national year-over-year discount remains, it has closed substantially from more than 50 cents just 10 days ago, AAA said.
Factors behind the rising prices include higher crude oil prices, refinery issues in the Gulf Coast and the threat of a tropical weather system moving into the Gulf of Mexico. Although Midwest gas prices have recently been the most volatile, prices in the southern and East Coast states have seen the biggest movers over the last week. The changes have been largely due to refinery issues, including flooding at the Baton Rogue Exxon Mobil and Covent facilities and a refinery outage in Baytown, Texas, and the first major tropical depression of the season.
Gas prices are below $2 per gallon in three states, six fewer than one week ago: South Carolina ($1.95), Alabama ($1.98) and Mississippi ($1.99). The greatest week-over-week price increases were seen in Florida (13 cents), Tennessee (9 cents), Georgia (9 cents), Missouri (8 cents), Kansas (8 cents), North Carolina (8 cents), South Carolina (8 cents), Colorado (8 cents), Michigan (7 cents) and Illinois (7 cents).
The West Coast remains the most expensive gas market and includes the top five most expensive averages: Hawaii ($2.74), California ($2.68), Washington ($2.61), Alaska ($2.55) and Oregon ($2.46). Although prices in this region have followed the national average trending higher, they have been some of the smallest increases in the country.
Area drivers are also enjoying the largest yearly discounts compared to the same date in 2015, but issues at a Carson, Calif., refinery on Aug. 26 could potentially impact supply in the region heading into Labor Day weekend.
Drivers in the Rockies are seeing yearly discounts with Colorado (58 cents), Wyoming (53 cents), Utah (51 cents), Arizona (50 cents) and New Mexico (46 cents) in the top 10 largest discounts in the country. Meanwhile, volatility is the norm in the Great Lakes, where the top five monthly price increases in the nation all are: Michigan (22 cents), Illinois (19 cents), Minnesota (19 cents), Missouri (17 cents) and Oklahoma (17 cents).
The region's neighbors in the Central area of the United States have lower prices but no average that is less than $2 per gallon, a change from one month ago when four Central states were below this threshold.
Gas prices in much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast have been relatively flat in the past month, and these prices may continue to drop as the summer driving season ends, barring any unexpected impact to production or distribution.
States in the Gulf Coast and Southeast regions are seeing some of the biggest price increases in the country over the past week as market watchers tracked a slow-moving tropical wave with some concern that it could become a storm with the potential to impact refineries and driver demand in the region.