Jun 22, 2023 - Economy

Cities in the U.S. with the cheapest and most expensive gas

Metros with the <span style="background: #C6E6E6; color: #2C6361; padding: 1px 5px;">cheapest</span> and <span style="background: #F5C3B7; color: #5A1A0C; padding: 1px 5px;">most expensive</span> regular gas prices
Data: AAA; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

While prices at gas pumps are cheaper this summer than last, drivers across the U.S. are paying vastly different amounts.

The big picture: The national average of regular gas stood at $3.58 per gallon Wednesday, with the cheapest metro being Hattiesburg, Mississippi at $2.93 a gallon and the most expensive nearly double that in Lihue (Kauai), Hawaii at $5.22.

  • Other metros with the cheapest gas included Odessa, Texas and the Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula metro area in Mississippi.
  • On the pricier end were the San Luis Obispo-Atascadero-Paso Robles area in California and the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area in Washington.

Zoom out: Residents in Washington, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Nevada are paying the most, respectively, while those in the Southeast like Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas are paying the least.

  • The average for a gallon of regular in Mississippi was $3 Wednesday.
  • In Washington state, it reached $4.93 a gallon Wednesday, up 0.327 cents from one month ago, AAA data shows.
  • California's price tag was a close second at $4.86 a gallon.

"The reason why the prices on the Gulf Coast is the cheapest is because it’s closest to source, closest to where the oil is refined," AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross told Axios.

  • "A state like Washington doesn’t produce any oil so all the oil refined up there had to come from somewhere else, likely California, and those costs add up," Gross explained, adding that it's the same for Hawaii.

Of note: Washington state knocked California from the top spot for the most expensive gas in the country this month.

Why it matters: California usually takes the cake for most expensive gas and it's the first time Washington state has held the title since the data was tracked starting in 2005, according to Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.

Yes, but a dozen of the top 20 metros for the most expensive gas were in the Golden State as of Wednesday.

Zoom out: Gas prices have fallen about 30% since last June.

  • A slump in the price of crude oil — which accounts for roughly half the price of a gallon of gas — over the last year has helped pull down prices for the fuel, Axios' Matt Phillips reports.
  • Lackluster demand is also keeping gas prices relatively stable, according to AAA.

What they're saying: "We may be in a bit of a demand lull heading into the July Fourth holiday," AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross said in a statement.

  • "Drivers are benefitting financially, with 20 gallons of gas costing nearly $30 less than last year," he added. "And with the cost for oil low, drivers will find pump prices that are flat or drifting slightly lower for now.”
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