A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Gas prices continue to fall, but fewer drivers are fueling up; Ky. still among least expensive states

Despite steadily falling gas prices during the peak of the summer driving season, fewer drivers fueled up last week. It’s another sign that, at least for now, Americans have continued to change their driving habits to cope with higher pump prices.

Meanwhile, the cost of oil has edged lower amid fears of economic slowdowns elsewhere around the globe. Because of these factors, the national average for a gallon of gas fell to $4.05. The state-level gas price average is now below the $5 mark for all states other than California and Hawaii.

“Oil is the primary ingredient in gasoline, so less expensive oil is helping to tame pump prices,” said Lori Weaver Hawkins, public affairs manager, AAA Blue Grass. “But we also saw fewer drivers fueling up. That combination is a recipe for gas prices to keep easing downward. With today’s national average at $4.05, it’s probable we’ll see the national average fall below $4 this week.”

The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline has dropped every day since peaking in mid-June and is now at its lowest since March 6. If the national gas price average falls another five cents, it will be the first time it has been under the $4 mark since March 5 when prices began to climb rapidly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine near the end of February.

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

According to new data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), gas demand dropped from 9.25 million b/d to 8.54 million b/d last week. The rate is 1.24 million b/d lower than last year and is in line with the demand at the end of July 2020, when COVID-19 restrictions were in place and fewer drivers hit the road. Moreover, according to EIA, the total domestic gasoline supply rose slightly by 200,000 bbl to 225.3 million bbl. If gas demand remains low and the supply continues to increase alongside falling oil prices, drivers will likely continue to see pump prices drop.

Diesel prices also continue to drop, though not as rapidly as gas prices. The national average for diesel is now at $5.14 per gallon, down another 13 cents on the week, and at its lowest price since late April. The average for diesel in Kentucky has fallen 16 cents on the week, now at $5.01.

National regular gasoline average of $4.05 is 16 cents lower than a week ago and 67 cents less than a month ago, but 87 cents more than a year ago.

Kentucky’s gas price average is now at $3.66, which is 17 cents lower on the week and puts it among the top 10 least expensive markets in the nation in terms of gas prices. Kentucky ties with Kansas, Iowa and Missouri for 9th place, just ahead of Louisiana at $3.68. This price is 76 cents lower on the month, but still 69 cents higher than a year ago.

Gas prices in Lexington are averaging $3.82, which is 17 cents lower on the week and 71 cents lower on the month. The average price in Lexington a year ago was $2.97.

The average gas price in Ashland is now $4.04. That’s 22 cents lower than a week ago and 65 cents lower than a month ago. The average price for Ashland a year ago was $2.95.

There are now 24 counties in Kentucky averaging at or below $3.45 a gallon. The state’s lowest county-level average can be found in Henderson County at $3.19, followed by Simpson County at $3.24. The county with the highest average is Elliott County at $4.09.

For those planning to travel around the region, the average price for a gallon of unleaded today in Ohio is $3.73, West Virginia $4.15, Virginia $3.85, Tennessee $3.62, Indiana $3.95, Illinois $4.42 and Missouri $3.66.

The western region of the U.S., as well as New York and Maine, have considerably higher gas prices than many states to the south, with a few exceptions. Only two states in the nation still average at or above $5 a gallon mark.

The highest spot in the nation remains California, now at $5.44 after a 16-cent drop on the week, followed by Hawaii at $5.42, which fell just 2 cents on the week. The state gas tax in California is 53.9 cents per gallon.

Texas has the lowest statewide gas price average in the nation today, currently at $3.55, followed by South Carolina at $3.59. Nearly half the states — 24 –are averaging below the $4 mark.

The nation’s top 10 largest weekly decreases: Washington, D.C. (−28 cents), Colorado (−23 cents), Arizona (−21 cents), Illinois (−21 cents), Indiana (−21 cents), Iowa (−20 cents), Ohio (−20 cents), Michigan (−19 cents), Missouri (−18 cents) and Minnesota (−18 cents).

The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets: Texas ($3.55), South Carolina ($3.59), Oklahoma ($3.60), Arkansas ($3.60), Georgia ($3.61), Tennessee ($3.62), Mississippi ($3.62), Alabama ($3.64), and, four states that differ by only fractions of a cent, Kansas ($3.66), Iowa ($3.66), Kentucky ($3.66) and Missouri ($3.66).

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session, West Texas Intermediate increased by 47 cents to settle at $89.01. Although crude prices made slight gains on Friday due to a strong U.S. jobs report for July, they saw significant declines throughout the week as a result of continuing market concern that demand will decline if economic growth stalls or reverses course. Prices have not been this low since mid-February 2022—before Russia invaded Ukraine. Additionally, EIA reported that total domestic crude supply increased by 4.5 million bbl to 426.6 million bbl. The sharp inventory increase, during the usually high-demand summer driving season, signals low demand could continue pushing prices lower. For this week, crude prices could continue to decline if demand concerns persist.

AAA Blue Grass

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