In 2022, national average gas prices in the United States reached their highest point since GasBuddy began keeping track, and they could remain elevated relative to earlier levels next year.
The fuel analytics company marked average prices at $3.96 per gallon for 2022, far surpassing the $3.02 per gallon average charted in 2021 and the $2.17 per gallon average charted in 2020. Even though GasBuddy forecasts that prices will drop to a national average of $3.49 per gallon in 2023 after approaching $4.00 per gallon by summertime, the reading would still rank among the highest years for prices at the pump in more than a decade.
Gas prices, which had already risen precipitously since the beginning of 2021, saw another increase following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, eventually surpassing $5.00 per gallon in June before declining through the remainder of the year. The national average price for gasoline is currently $3.20 per gallon, according to data from AAA.
A national fuel price outlook published by GasBuddy this week indicates that prices will rise from $2.99 per gallon in February to reach $3.99 per gallon by June before decreasing once more to $3.17 per gallon in December. Households spent an average of $2,748 on gasoline throughout 2022, a measurement that GasBuddy expects will fall to $2,471 in 2023.
Despite the nationwide trend toward historically elevated gas prices in recent years, the amount that Americans must spend on fuel varies considerably across the country. Residents of California are currently paying an average of $4.40 per gallon, according to data from AAA, while residents of Alabama and South Carolina are paying $2.93 per gallon.
Democratic lawmakers have generally blamed the Russian invasion of Ukraine and price gouging from oil companies for the higher costs. Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) recently attempted to pass a “price gouging penalty” that would have compelled oil companies to reduce their profits to avoid a civil penalty from the California Energy Commission. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) voiced support earlier this year for legislation that would allow President Joe Biden to declare an “energy emergency,” granting him the ability to regulate prices by preventing fuel companies from selling at rates deemed to be “unconscionably excessive.”
White House officials have contended that recent decreases in gas prices from their record highs over the summer are attributable to policies advanced by the commander-in-chief. “Every month, the typical two-driver family saves about $120 at the pump compared to where we were in mid-June,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in October. “Every day, Americans save about $420 million at the pump compared to mid-June.”
Fuel price trends have contributed to the overall inflationary pressures which have throttled the economy. A survey conducted by Gallup in November found that 55% of Americans believe rising price levels have produced hardships for their households, marking a slight increase from the end of last year, even as a steady 13% believe elevated prices are causing severe hardships for their families. “As would be expected, inflation has taken a greater toll on lower-income Americans,” Gallup said, noting that more than 75% of such people “say they have experienced hardship because of rising prices.”