While the reasons are numerous and complex — decelerating job cuts, rising oil prices, drains in refinery activity, increasing demand in Asia — the result is painfully simple for drivers in the Lawrence area, Jim Hanni says.
Gasoline prices are going up.
The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline hit $2.52 Tuesday in Lawrence, up from $2.43 a week ago and $2.07 a month ago, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report.
Hanni, executive vice president for AAA in Kansas, ran through the reasoning Tuesday afternoon, knowing that it would offer little comfort for people filling their tanks for daily needs and summer travel amid a recession that has yet to let up.
Especially when just last month, Hanni was talking like fuel prices wouldn’t be expected to surpass $2.50 per gallon anytime soon.
“We’ve got a weaker dollar, and signs that the economy is bouncing off the bottom,” Hanni said, after running through various economic trends, political moves and production decisions that are affecting prices at the pump. “Those are things we didn’t have any indication of when we talked about $2 to $2.50 a gallon.”
Now the talk is inching toward $2.50 to $3 per gallon through the end of summer, a big change from nearly six months ago.
Back on Dec. 12, a gallon of regular unleaded averaged just $1.42 per gallon, according to AAA. Then came the steady climb, eclipsing $2 on May 7 and continuing to the $2.52 a little more than a month later.
Hanni hopes the price represents a spike, not a sustained plateau or — worse yet — a way station before an even higher summit.
“I gassed up for $2.36 today in Wichita,” Hanni said, with an optimistic tone. “Maybe it’s beginning a bit of a temporary drop-off.”