After some regions around the country reported record-high gas prices, the shock of high gas prices is set to lessen a bit.
This past summer's high gas prices have lasted unusually long into autumn, but the decline has finally begun, with some states reporting their average price for a gallon of gas falling beneath $3.
USA Today reports that gas prices are set to fall at a rate of about 50 cents per gallon, a welcome sign for Americans paying a national average of $3.86 in recent weeks. The average price for gas now sits at $3.69 a gallon, but that number is expected to decrease to $3.35 by Thanksgiving.
Tom Kloza, of the Oil Price Information Service, told USA Today that wholesale prices in important areas have dropped from $4.35 a gallon to $2.71.
“Most of the country is heading appreciably lower over the next few weeks,” Kloza said, adding that prices will drop between five and 15 cents per gallon for three weeks in a row.
While gas prices have almost nothing to do with decisions made by politicians, the issue was center stage in the second presidential debate between Mitt Romney and President Obama. Romney attacked Obama’s energy policies, citing high prices at the pump as clear evidence that the administration has failed Americans who need to put fuel in their tanks. The falling gas prices are expected to help President Obama’s polling numbers, according to Alpha Economic Foresights chief economist Brian Bethune.
“Certainly, lower gas prices are helpful in terms of consumer spending by increasing disposable income,” Bethune told USA Today. “And if prices come down at a rapid rate in the next three weeks, that would tend to help the incumbent. It may not be logical, but if people see problems with the high cost of food or gas, it’s the president who tends to get the blame.”
The Christian Science Monitor reported that gas prices increased by 9 percent in August, followed by another 7 percent increase in September. Experts have cited issues with refineries and pipelines as the reason for the price increase. Still, gasoline prices sit at 27 cents higher than they were at this time in 2011.
Earlier this month, Californians saw $4.65 leave their wallet for every gallon of gas they bought, a four-year record (not when adjusted for inflation, though), according to the Los Angeles Times. An Exxon Mobile refinery was knocked out by a power outage in the early days of October, leading to a price spike at gas stations. Some station owners stopped selling gas altogether, refusing to shell out money at the expensive wholesale prices.
“If you’re along the West Coast, specifically California, you have my sympathy,” wrote GasBuddy.com earlier this week. “Prices just aren’t coming down fast enough -- but at least they’re coming down and not going up.”
The end is in sight, though, as the demand goes down and gasoline supply increases.