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Page added on February 6, 2013

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Rising gas prices are hitting Americans in the wallet

With pump prices at their highest level on record for this time of year, the stage is set for a even greater climb in gasoline prices and expenditures than in 2012.

Retail gasoline prices have surged 17 cents in a week to top $3.50 a gallon on average, posting the highest prices on record for the beginning of February.

More from CNBC: Gasoline at highest price ever for this time of year

According to AAA, the national average price of regular gasoline is $3.52 a gallon, 4 cents higher than the average price a year ago. The average price was $3.35 a gallon a week ago and $3.30 a gallon a month ago.

Gasoline prices are displayed as a motorist refuels his vehicle Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, in Oakland, Calif.

Ben Margot / AP

Gasoline prices are displayed as a motorist refuels his vehicle Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, in Oakland, Calif.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Monday that gasoline expenditures in 2012 for the average U.S. household reached $2,912, or just under 4 percent of income before taxes. This was the highest estimated percentage of household income spent on gasoline in nearly three decades, with the exception of 2008, when the average household spent a similar amount. Gasoline prices averaged $3.63 a gallon in 2012, according to EIA.

Although overall gasoline consumption has decreased in recent years, a rise in average gasoline prices has led to higher overall household gasoline expenditures, according to the EIA.

The spring rally in gasoline prices typically starts in late February or early March, so this year’s gains have come earlier than usual.

Analysts said the uncharacteristically early price rise is due to several factors: some refineries closing permanently or shutting down for maintenance, climbing crude oil prices, and a shortage of supply in California, requiring fuel to be diverted from other areas of the country to make up for reduced inventories.

In California, which often has the highest-priced gasoline in the continental U.S., mid and premium priced grades are already over $4 a gallon. Meanwhile, the state-wide average price of regular gasoline has jumped over 30 cents, or 10 percent, from a month ago to $3.91 a gallon on Monday, according to AAA. California gas prices are up 24 cents — or 6 percent higher — than they were a year ago.

Diesel fuel is also near the $4 a gallon mark, with the national average price of diesel at $3.98 a gallon on Monday, according to AAA. Diesel prices are about 10 cents higher than a year ago.

More from CNBC: Will we see record gasoline prices this year?

Meanwhile, consumers who use heating oil in their homes have seen sharp increases in those fuel prices and are also paying more than they did a year ago. According to the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority, the statewide average price of residential heating oil was $4.14 a gallon for the week ending January 28, up about 3 percent from a year ago.

Analysts say the price rise for diesel and home heating oil are also due to refinery issues around the country.


9 Comments on "Rising gas prices are hitting Americans in the wallet"

  1. John Symons on Wed, 6th Feb 2013 10:47 pm 

    Once limits to oil exports are removed the Brent-WTI spread should return to a more normal value such as -$2/bbl from the current $20/bbl. WTI at $100/bbl instead of $78/bbl would be an increase of over 28%, and as fuel taxes in the USA are very low most of that percentage increase would feed through to the pumps. This is not all bad news, yielding increased tax revenues from oil production to help pay down US debt and maintain the dollar’s status as a reserve currency if the USA wishes.

  2. Kenz300 on Thu, 7th Feb 2013 12:20 am 

    The era of cheap oil is over.

    Get used to it.

    Walk, buy a bicycle, take mass transit or get a fuel efficient vehicle that does not use oil for fuel.

  3. Beery on Thu, 7th Feb 2013 1:10 am 

    I’m surprised to see gas prices this high too. All the indicators I was looking at suggested a fall. Now I’m wondering if we’re going to see a price spike.

  4. DC on Thu, 7th Feb 2013 1:17 am 

    Wow amerikans are spending a whole 4% of there income keeping there GM shyte-boxes rolling into wall-mart. Talk about tragic or what?

    Send in the Marines! Or better yet, just print more money to subsidize both the production AND consumption of even MORE fossil-fools in the US! That should fix everything! OR better still, send in the Marines(dont matter where, long as there are terrorists insisting on being paid in a currency worth something) AND fire up the printing presses. You know, to pay for the salaries of the Marines, and US oil executives, and all that

    A win win!

  5. BillT on Thu, 7th Feb 2013 1:37 am 

    Gas is currently P52/liter or $4.88/gal. here in Manila. That’s down from $5.47 last year this time. And this is a country where the average wage is $10 PER DAY for laborers. Needless to say, they do not own cars or even motorbikes.

    I think that gas taxes should be raised $0.50 per gallon every year until the excess of cars is weeded out and people learn to walk. But then, the cost of gas is going to go up about that amount anyway as costs keep climbing to recover the base resource, oil.

    If anyone actually believes we will be pumping oil out of the Arctic and dropping prices, think again. There are ice floes the size of states up there that move constantly. No rig can stay in one place for months or years, like on land, as Exxon found out last summer. The costs of each well will be in the billions, not millions like land based ones. Ditto any off shore deep water tries or the shale oil fiasco.

  6. BillT on Thu, 7th Feb 2013 10:00 am 

    Just went out and checked today’s gas prices. They are now P53.8/liter or $ 5.05/gal. an 18 cent rise since yesterday. See, the US is not the only place that prices fluctuate. Can’t blame the Philippine gas prices on Obama. Oil is a world commodity, not an American one. And ‘for profit’ capitalism says it goes to the highest bidder.

  7. Raven on Thu, 7th Feb 2013 1:16 pm 

    Why is gas going.up ?

  8. Hugh Culliton on Thu, 7th Feb 2013 1:42 pm 

    And so it begins.

  9. Terry on Thu, 7th Feb 2013 5:18 pm 

    It is the greatest lie forced on the whole world!

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