Climbing gas prices a cruel, sobering reality

If you think you have less money in your wallet these days after stopping at the gas station, you probably would be correct.

According to statistics compiled by AAA, gas prices last week were the highest they have been nationally since October 2014. The national average for gas at that time was $3.22 a gallon for regular unleaded.

In Michigan, the folks at GasBuddy reported the average price in the state was $3.34 a gallon. That price was over a dollar ($1.22 to be exact) more than what you would have paid for gasoline in October last year, and 21.6 cents more than a gallon of gas in September.

In Alpena, the average price of gasoline was $3.29 a gallon as of two days ago.

I choose to write about gas prices from time to time each year because, unlike a lot of things, few of us can escape putting gasoline in our vehicles.

For most people, it is a necessity, rather than a luxury, and, more often than not, it is a pretty good indicator of the state of the economy out there.

The difference in yearly prices of gas, for instance, is alarming especially to seniors who live on fixed incomes.

Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, explained that, normally at this time of year, gas prices have begun going down from their summer highs.

That has not been the case thus far this year, he said.

“Last week saw oil prices advance to their highest in seven years, with a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil surpassing the critical $80 per barrel level,” he said. “The OPEC decision caused an immediate reaction in oil prices, and amidst what is turning into a global energy crunch, motorists are now spending over $400 million more on gasoline every single day than they were just a year ago.”

That’s a staggering figure.

And, yes, the higher prices are definitely impacting the economy.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that inflation in the U.S. is at its highest rate in over a decade. The Consumers Price Index — which measures the price for goods and services — rose 5.4% from September 2020, according to officials with the U.S. Labor Department.

Those statistics have definitely grabbed the attention of economists.

But you know that if you have gone out to eat lately or purchased groceries. You understand that the burgers often have gotten smaller, but you are paying more for them these days.

The demand for gas right now is high as motorists have returned to the highways, perhaps in part to make up for lost time being able to visit loved ones during the coronavirus pandemic months.

As long as that demand remains high, De Haan indicated, pricing will probably stay high, as well.

Meanwhile, you and I need to dig into our piggy banks for some extra coins to take with us to our next visit at the gas station.

It is a cruel and sobering reality.

Bill Speer recently retired as the publisher and editor of The News. He can be reached at bspeer@thealpenanews.com.


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