Memorial Day gas prices remain stubbornly high

AAA estimates that 43 million people will be traveling this weekend, with 37 million people on the road even though gas prices are up 30 cents per gallon.

Posted: May 23, 2019 4:29 PM


For much of the country, gas prices will be lower this Memorial Day weekend than they were a year ago. But they are still a long way from being cheap.

Although the national average of $2.85 a gallon is about dime cheaper than a year ago, gas is still significantly more expensive than every other Memorial Day since 2014.

A strong US economy has increased demand for gasoline. With unemployment near a 50-year low, there more people are commuting and taking vacations.

AAA estimates that a record 37.6 million people will be on the roads in the United States this weekend, the traditional start of the summer driving season. That's up 3.5% from last year.

In western states, drivers will find the highest gas prices in the country.

The statewide average in California is $4.03 for a gallon of regular, about 30 cents higher than a year ago. Every other state west of the Rockies is paying $3 a gallon, more than they were a year ago.

Pennsylvania is the only state east of the Rockies with a statewide average above $3 a gallon.

The price differences between states exists because of varying refining capacity, according to Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service.

About 2.5 million barrels of daily refining capacity has been built in the United States over the past 20 years, all of it east of the Rockies.

But the western United States hasn't gotten any new capacity. Tighter environmental regulations in Washington and California have blocked new refineries, for example. That's a problem, because the West's population continues to grow.

And several major western refineries are down for maintenance heading into the holiday weekend.

"Most should be back to full speed in June but the West Coast has no room for occasional fires, power outages, etc.," he said.

Oil prices have dipped recently on worries about a global trade war cutting into economic activity and demand for oil. Wholesale prices of gasoline have also fallen this week, but that has yet to be seen at the pump said Kloza.

There could be some relief for drivers early next week, but he said prices will probably stay relatively high throughout the summer because of other issues that have been pushing crude oil prices higher in recent months.

Those pressures include decreased output by OPEC, sanctions on Iran and Venezuela and continued economic strength in the United States.

"The trade war worries are the only thing pushing oil down," Kloza said. "If that causes a recession, that changes the equation, but otherwise I think crude prices should stay high."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 12595
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion907061645
Lake48425878
Allen35861636
Hamilton32099397
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Elkhart25386415
Vanderburgh21247378
Tippecanoe20024201
Johnson16349360
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Hendricks15825300
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Delaware9838179
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Floyd7207169
Wayne6633191
Grant6427157
Morgan6092125
Boone609088
Dubois5910111
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Cass544499
Marshall5425104
Henry542393
Noble509378
Jackson464767
Shelby460690
Lawrence4184112
Gibson401281
Harrison399864
Clinton395853
Montgomery387083
DeKalb385278
Knox357485
Miami357463
Whitley349436
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Steuben338355
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 968874

Reported Deaths: 17346
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1119871212
Cuyahoga957051750
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Montgomery47254892
Summit40184957
Butler35456473
Lucas35279767
Stark29356843
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Mahoning19444544
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Clermont18346212
Delaware16437136
Licking14967200
Fairfield14506160
Trumbull14315465
Greene13568214
Medina13370219
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Wood11506194
Portage11008160
Allen10768235
Richland10278206
Miami10011190
Muskingum8169131
Columbiana8120183
Pickaway8041104
Tuscarawas8029236
Marion7982137
Wayne7857219
Erie6872184
Ross6130137
Geauga6057129
Hancock5981114
Ashtabula5959147
Scioto5933104
Lawrence524974
Union512352
Darke5026124
Belmont491889
Huron4797118
Jefferson4790108
Sandusky476196
Seneca4671103
Athens463733
Washington462287
Mercer4582101
Auglaize455499
Shelby440970
Knox401686
Putnam3986101
Madison392147
Ashland379195
Fulton378664
Defiance3714102
Brown369242
Crawford357496
Logan354060
Preble352671
Clinton340064
Highland327756
Ottawa323267
Williams301878
Jackson289356
Champaign286646
Guernsey286234
Fayette268144
Perry267744
Morrow259225
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Hardin244457
Holmes2430104
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Van Wert229249
Gallia221846
Adams216032
Pike215228
Wyandot209353
Hocking194049
Carroll180828
Paulding160023
Meigs135037
Noble128742
Monroe116436
Morgan100834
Harrison100433
Vinton76715
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