Gasoline prices fell just below the $4 mark for the first time in more than five months – good news for consumers struggling with high prices for many other essentials.
AAA said the national average for a gallon of regular was $3.99 on Thursday.
Prices fell 15 cents last week and 68 cents last month, according to the auto club.
Shopping app GasBuddy reported that the national average had already fallen to $3.98 on Wednesday.
Falling prices for gasoline, airline tickets and clothing are providing some relief to consumers, even though inflation is still near a four-decade high.
Oil prices began to rise in mid-2020 as economies recovered from the initial shock of the pandemic. They rose again when the United States and its allies announced sanctions against Russian oil following Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Recently, however, oil prices have fallen on concerns about slowing economic growth around the world. And high prices may encourage American motorists to drive less. Gasoline demand in early August was down 3.3% from the same week last year after tracking 2021 numbers more closely earlier this summer.
Pump prices are likely to be a major issue as the midterm elections approach in November.
Republicans are blaming President Joe Biden for high gas prices, seizing on his decisions to cancel a permit for a major pipeline and suspend new oil and gas leases on federal lands.
Biden said over the weekend that a family with two cars was saving $100 a month because prices had fallen from their peak in mid-June.
“It’s wiggle room,” he tweeted. “And we won’t let up anytime soon.”
Biden has also sparred with oil companies, accusing them of not producing as much oil and gasoline as they could while posting huge profits. “Exxon has made more money than God this year,” he said in June.
“I’m calling on businesses to pass every penny of this 18-cent cut back to consumers,” President Joe Biden said Wednesday.
Exxon said it increased its oil production. The Chevron CEO said Biden was trying to vilify his industry.
The national average for gas has not been below $4 since early March. Prices peaked at $5.02 a gallon on June 14, according to AAA. They slowly declined the rest of June, then started to decline more rapidly.
Motorists in California and Hawaii still pay more than $5, and other western states pay close to that. The cheapest gas is found in Texas and several other southern and midwestern states.
A year ago, the national average price was around $3.20 per gallon.