Most states haven’t hit the $4 mark for a gallon of regular. Nonetheless, gas prices around the country have soared for four weeks in a row, at a pace that would mean $5 per gallon in many states by the start of summer.
Five bucks per gallon is already a reality at some gas stations. In California, where the average gallon now sells for $4.34 (second highest in the nation, after Hawaii), certain stations have been charging $5 or more per gallon for two weeks. Stations in places such as Long Island and Washington, D.C., have started charging at or around $5 per gallon, and a few notorious fill-up spots near Orlando International Airport in central Florida have been charging nearly $6 a gallon.
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The average price for gas has passed $4 per gallon already in California, Hawaii, and Alaska, and Connecticut seems to be the next state to hit the mark. At last check (per AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report), the average gallon of regular was selling for $3.994 in Connecticut. The Hartford Courant quotes experts indicating that by the time beach weather arrives, drivers have good reason to expect to add another $1 per gallon to that price:
“If it continues on the pace it has been going since the middle of December,” says Gene Guilford, president of the Independent Connecticut Petroleum Association, “it wouldn’t be difficult to believe it would be $5 by Memorial Day.”
In Arizona, meanwhile, where the gas price average is “just” $3.81, and where stations in the metro Phoenix area have surpassed $4 a gallon, the Republic also quotes experts discussing the likelihood of $5 gas:
“If I were a betting man, I’d say $4 (per gallon average) easily, and potentially I reckon even $5 this summer,” said research professor Tim James of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
All of these projections are based on the idea that gas prices will keep rising at a pace similar to what we’ve seen over the past couple of months. Gas prices could plateau, or perhaps even fall, of course. But most experts say that’s unlikely to occur anytime soon.
CNN Money points to one scenario that would, in fact, bring gas prices down—but few people would actually want to see such a scenario come true. If another recession hit, bringing with it a rise in unemployment and more trouble to the housing market, demand for gasoline would shrink dramatically, and gas prices would most likely decline.
That’s a scenario even less welcomed than $5-per-gallon gas.