California tends to get a lot of the attention in terms of rising gas prices. The state does have the highest prices in the Lower 48, now averaging $4.35 per gallon, up from $3.83 in mid-February. But over the last five or so weeks, gas prices have increased more in dozens of U.S. cities outside Cali than they have in the Golden State, and a non-California metropolis now has the country’s highest prices at the pump.
Gas prices are soaring all over the country. California was among the first three states to top $4 a gallon (with Hawaii and Alaska), and it’s California that’s mentioned most often in any story about skyrocketing fuel costs.
But, as the fuel-research site GasBuddy reports, California doesn’t really deserve the title for Fastest Rising Gas Prices. Looking over gas price data for all U.S. cities, GasBuddy notes that over the past five weeks, the average gallon has risen in by 70¢ in Chicago, which leads the country. Drivers in Midwestern cities such as Flint, Mich., Milwaukee, Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo have also seen huge gas price increases of 64¢ or more.
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In California, gas prices in Santa Barbara have risen the most over this same time period, with a 49¢ increase. That puts the city at No. 28 overall in terms of Fastest Rising Gas Prices.
Even so, don’t California drivers still deserve the most pity? Not only are residents of the freeway-crazed state famously in need of cars, they also fork over the most (outside of Hawaii and Alaska) for gas.
Over the weekend, the Denver Post noted that Denver was the cheapest big U.S. city for gas, while Los Angeles was the most expensive. But the gap between the high and low is shrinking: In February, Denver drivers paid $1.23 less per gallon than L.A. metro area consumers. Last week, the difference dropped to less than $1. At last check, per GasBuddy, Chicago ($4.41) had actually overtaken Los Angeles ($4.39) and San Francisco ($4.40) to lead major U.S. cities in gas prices. A gallon in Denver, on the other hand, goes for $3.60.
In any event, be happy you’re not a commuter in China. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Chinese government has increased gas prices by 50% since 2009. Overall, gas prices have nearly tripled since 2000. The average gallon now costs $4.43, which is higher even than California. Drivers throughout Europe and much of the world, for that matter, pay double the price of gas in Beijing, Los Angeles, Chicago, or anywhere in the U.S. or China.