Gas prices dip across U.S., and get even lower for Augusta drivers
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The national average price for gasoline has dipped under $4 for the first time in more than five months — good news for consumers who are struggling with high prices for many other essentials.
AAA said the national average for a gallon of regular was $3.99 on Thursday, down from the mid-June record of $5.02. However, that’s still about 80 cents higher than the average a year ago.
The average price Thursday in Georgia is $3.56, down from $3.70 a week ago. In Augusta, the average Thursday is $3.48, down from $3.64 a week ago.
Across the Savannah River in South Carolina, the average Thursday is $3.54, and gas is running a penny higher than that in Aiken and Edgefield counties.
Energy is a key factor in the cost of many goods and services, and falling prices for gas, airline tickets and clothes are giving consumers a bit of relief, although inflation is still close to a four-decade high.
Oil prices began rising in mid-2020 as economies recovered from the initial shock of the pandemic. They rose again when the U.S. and allies announced sanctions against Russian oil over the country’s war against Ukraine.
Recently, however, oil prices have dropped on concern about slowing economic growth around the world. U.S. benchmark crude oil has recently dipped close to $90 a barrel from over $120 a barrel in June.
It is unclear whether gasoline prices got so high that consumers cut back on their driving. Some experts believe that is true, although they acknowledge that the evidence is largely anecdotal.
“I don’t know that $5 was the magic amount. I think it was the amount of increase in a short period of time,” said Peter Schwarz, an expert on energy pricing and an economics professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. “People were starting to watch their driving.”
Schwarz expects oil prices to remain relatively stable at least for the next month or so, particularly after OPEC and partners including Russia agreed to only a small oil production increase in September, which won’t be enough to drive prices lower.
The nationwide average for gas hasn’t been under $4 since early March. Prices topped out at $5.02 a gallon on June 14, according to AAA. They declined slowly the rest of June, then began dropping more rapidly. The shopping app GasBuddy reported that the national average dropped under $4 on Wednesday.
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