Substantial variations in the prices of gas are being reported across the United States despite an overall price decrease nationwide.
Americans have been enjoying gas prices at their lowest levels since 2008 this year’s holiday season. A full tank of gas currently costs motorists on average $20 or less at the pump. In comparison, statistics from the U.S. Energy Department say the average price of regular gas in 2008 was $1.63.
While locations in South Carolina and Missouri have fallen below $1.75 a gallon, many parts of California are still dealing with an average retail price in excess of $2.50 a gallon.
Not only are the gas prices higher in California, but the prices of gas are actually increasing while the nationwide average continues to decrease. The Sacramento Bee reports that over the past month, gas prices have risen by 2.1 cents. This puts the average gas price for the state in a better position than where it was last year, 3.4 cents per gallon less to be exact, despite the the more recent upward trend in price. Southern California in particular has been particularly hard hit by gas prices, where an average of more than $3 a gallon can still be found in places like Los Angeles.
On the opposite side of the United States, a much different story behind the gas prices can be found. Unlike California, South Carolina has seen a dramatic drop in gas price over the past year. According to The Post and Courier, South Carolina’s average gas price has dropped 37 cents since this time in 2014, putting the state at one of the lowest levels in the country at $1.75 a gallon.
In the heart of the country, Missouri has the distinction of having the cheapest gas prices in the nation, averaging at around $1.70 a gallon.
Sticker shock was a common occurrence at the gas pump in previous years, especially in 2011, 2012 and 2013. In all three years, the U.S. averaged more than $3 a gallon in the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Years, with localized reports much higher.
Thanks in part to the plunging value of oil, which has dropped substantially since June 2014, and warm temperatures courtesy of El Niño lessening the demand for fuel, Americans can expect the price of gas to continue to decrease as we enter a new year. “The fact that it’s been a very warm winter is leading to much less heavy fuel demand and leading to high inventory”, said GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan.