Labor Day weekend gas prices highest in four years

U.S. gasoline prices, as well as demand, remain high for the Labor Day weekend, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported on Friday.

Gas prices are expected to remain high through the Labor Day weekend, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Friday. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Gas prices are expected to remain high through the Labor Day weekend, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Friday. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

The U.S. average retail price for regular gasoline, reported on Aug. 27, was $2.83 per gallon, the highest it has been the Monday before Labor Day since 2014 — when it was $3.45 per gallon.

The 2017 figure was affected by Hurricane Harvey in the Gulf Coast. In an eight-day period, which included Labor Day last year, the price of gasoline rose, on average, 28 cents per gallon.

“Crude oil is the main input cost in the production of gasoline, and movements in the crude oil price — along with changes in gasoline market conditions — drive changes in wholesale and retail gasoline prices,” EIA said in Friday’s report.

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The 2018 price is 43 cents per gallon higher than the same time last year. This year’s price is influenced by the cost of oil. North Sea Brent crude oil is $18 per barrel higher than at this time in 2014. It coincides with higher demand, the EIA said, putting upward pressure on prices. U.S. Federal Highway Administration data indicate that cumulative miles driven in the United States through the first half of 2018 increased by 5.2 billion miles, or 0.3 percent, from the same period in 2017.

The highest-priced market for gasoline, by state, is Hawaii, at $3.76 per gallon, followed by California at $3.60, Washington at $3.37, Alaska at $3.32 and Idaho at $3.26. Idaho’s price has risen by 12 cents per gallon since the start of August. Part of the West Coast’s high prices can be attributed to refinery maintenance and the increased gas usage during the summer tourist season, the American Automobile Association said.

Although prices remain high, there has been little elasticity during the summer. The national average observed daily between June 1 and Aug. 27 shows only a 13-cent swing in prices per gallon. The summer of 2005 saw a 91-cent differential between high and low prices, due in part to Hurricane Katrina’s appearance on the Gulf Coast.

ByEd Adamczyk