National average gas prices in the U.S reached their highest level since GasBuddy started keeping track in 2022, and they may remain higher relative to prior levels next year.
The gasoline analytics firm set 2022 average prices at $3.96 per gallon, significantly above the $3.02 per gallon average set in 2021 and the $2.17 per gallon average set in 2020. Even while GasBuddy predicts that prices would fall to a national average of $3.49 per gallon in 2023, after nearing $4.00 per gallon by midsummer, the number would still be among the highest in more than a decade.
Gas prices, which had already increased rapidly before the beginning of 2021, rose again following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, finally topping $5.00 per gallon in June before falling for the remainder of the year. According to AAA data, the national average price for gasoline is presently $3.20 per gallon.
Based on a nationwide gasoline price forecast released this week by GasBuddy, prices will climb from $2.99 per gallon in February to $3.99 per gallon by June before falling again to $3.17 per gallon in December. Households spent an average of $2,748 on gasoline in 2022, which GasBuddy predicts will dip to $2,471 in 2023.
Despite the current countrywide trend of historically high gas prices, the amount that Americans must spend on gasoline varies greatly across the country. According to AAA data, residents of California presently spend an average of $4.40 per gallon of gasoline, while residents of South Carolina and Alabama pay $2.93 per gallon.
Democratic legislators have largely blamed the increasing prices on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and price gouging by oil firms. Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) recently sought to enact a “price gouging penalty,” which would have required oil firms to cut earnings in order to avoid a civil penalty from the California Energy Commission. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) expressed support earlier this year for legislation that would empower President Joe Biden to declare an “energy emergency,” allowing him to control pricing by prohibiting fuel corporations from selling at “unconscionably high” prices.
White House officials have claimed that recent drops in gasoline prices from record highs throughout the summer are attributable to policies of President Biden. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated in October that “the typical two-driver household saves roughly $120 every month at the pump compared to where we were in mid-June. In comparison to mid-June, Americans save nearly $420 million at the pump per day.”
Fuel price fluctuations have added to the general inflationary pressures that have stifled the economy. According to a Gallup poll published in November, 55% of Americans feel rising price levels have caused challenges for their households, a small increase from the end of last year, while a consistent 13% believe rising costs are generating serious troubles for their families. “As predicted, inflation has taken a bigger toll on lower-income Americans,” Gallup stated, adding that more than 75% of such people “say they have suffered difficulty as a result of rising prices.”