The national average was $4.07 when the current run for the price hike began on April 15. The current price reading from OPIS represents a 23% increase in less than two months.
While the national average of $5 is new, $5 of gas has become annoyingly common in most parts of the country.
Data from OPIS, which collects readings from 130,000 US gas stations used to compile AAA averages, showed that 32% of stations nationwide, roughly one in three, were already charging more than $5 a gallon in readings on Friday. And about 10% of stations across the country charge more than $5.75 a gallon.
The statewide average was $5 a gallon or more in 21 states plus Washington, D.C. in Saturday’s reading.
$6 gas could be next
The US national average for gasoline may approach $6 later this summer, according to Tom Kluza, global head of energy analysis at OPIS.
“Anything goes from June 20 to Labor Day,” Kloza said earlier this week of gas demand as people hit the road for long-awaited holidays. “Come to hell or high gas prices, people are going to take vacations.”
The highest statewide average has always been in California, averaging $6.43 a gallon in readings on Saturday. But the pain of high prices is being felt across the country, not just in California or other high-priced states.
Cheap gas is hard to find
That’s partly because the cheapest wasn’t exactly cheap—the $4.47 a gallon average in Georgia gives it the cheapest average price in the state. Fewer than 300 gas stations out of 130,000 nationwide were charging $4.25 a gallon or less in Friday’s reading from OPIS. For comparison purposes, prior to the price hike earlier this year, the national record average for gas was $4.11, set in July 2008.
There is some early evidence that people are starting to scale back their driving in the face of higher prices, but it’s still a modest decline.
The number of gallons pumped at stations in the last week of May was down about 5% from the same week a year ago, according to OPIS, although gas prices have risen more than 50% since then. Car trips to the US are down about 5% since early May, according to mobility research firm Inrix, although those trips are still up about 5% since the start of the year.
The main concern is that consumers will cut back on other spending to continue driving which could push an economy already showing signs of weakness into recession.
Many reasons for standard prices
In addition to the strong demand for gasoline, there is also a supply problem that causes the prices of both oil and gasoline to rise. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, and sanctions against Russia in the United States and Europe since then are a major factor, with Russia being among the world’s largest oil exporters. But it is only part of the reason.
Nor has US oil production and refining capacity fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels. Due to the high prices in Europe, some US and Canadian refineries that normally supply the US market with gas are exporting gasoline to Europe.
CNN’s Matt Egan and Michelle Watson contributed to this report.