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Memorial Day gas prices remain stubbornly high

AAA estimates that 43 million people will be traveling this weekend, with 37 million people on the road even though gas prices are up 30 cents per gallon.

Posted: May 24, 2019 7:40 AM


For much of the country, gas prices will be lower this Memorial Day weekend than they were a year ago. But they are still a long way from being cheap.

Although the national average of $2.85 a gallon is about dime cheaper than a year ago, gas is still significantly more expensive than every other Memorial Day since 2014.

A strong US economy has increased demand for gasoline. With unemployment near a 50-year low, there more people are commuting and taking vacations.

AAA estimates that a record 37.6 million people will be on the roads in the United States this weekend, the traditional start of the summer driving season. That's up 3.5% from last year.

In western states, drivers will find the highest gas prices in the country.

The statewide average in California is $4.03 for a gallon of regular, about 30 cents higher than a year ago. Every other state west of the Rockies is paying $3 a gallon, more than they were a year ago.

Pennsylvania is the only state east of the Rockies with a statewide average above $3 a gallon.

The price differences between states exists because of varying refining capacity, according to Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service.

About 2.5 million barrels of daily refining capacity has been built in the United States over the past 20 years, all of it east of the Rockies.

But the western United States hasn't gotten any new capacity. Tighter environmental regulations in Washington and California have blocked new refineries, for example. That's a problem, because the West's population continues to grow.

And several major western refineries are down for maintenance heading into the holiday weekend.

"Most should be back to full speed in June but the West Coast has no room for occasional fires, power outages, etc.," he said.

Oil prices have dipped recently on worries about a global trade war cutting into economic activity and demand for oil. Wholesale prices of gasoline have also fallen this week, but that has yet to be seen at the pump said Kloza.

There could be some relief for drivers early next week, but he said prices will probably stay relatively high throughout the summer because of other issues that have been pushing crude oil prices higher in recent months.

Those pressures include decreased output by OPEC, sanctions on Iran and Venezuela and continued economic strength in the United States.

"The trade war worries are the only thing pushing oil down," Kloza said. "If that causes a recession, that changes the equation, but otherwise I think crude prices should stay high."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 603760

Reported Deaths: 7605
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1247651771
Ramsey52437895
Dakota46772469
Anoka42693458
Washington27391290
Stearns22545224
St. Louis18120311
Scott17536134
Wright16400148
Olmsted13386102
Sherburne1199494
Carver1065848
Clay825492
Rice8186110
Blue Earth762343
Crow Wing681194
Kandiyohi667185
Chisago619152
Otter Tail585684
Benton582798
Goodhue483373
Douglas475381
Mower470733
Winona460851
Itasca458663
Isanti439564
McLeod429161
Morrison424361
Nobles407950
Beltrami406960
Steele397416
Polk388872
Becker386555
Lyon363853
Carlton352556
Freeborn346832
Pine335023
Nicollet330945
Mille Lacs311454
Brown307840
Le Sueur297125
Todd285632
Cass285532
Meeker263042
Waseca237823
Martin234932
Roseau210721
Wabasha20783
Hubbard196041
Dodge18773
Renville182346
Redwood176338
Houston174016
Cottonwood167124
Wadena162422
Fillmore157410
Faribault154319
Chippewa153838
Pennington153820
Kanabec146828
Sibley146810
Aitkin138637
Watonwan13589
Rock128719
Jackson122612
Pipestone116626
Yellow Medicine114920
Pope11296
Murray107010
Swift106918
Koochiching94617
Stevens92411
Clearwater89016
Marshall88717
Wilkin83112
Lake82920
Lac qui Parle75622
Big Stone6044
Grant5938
Lincoln5843
Mahnomen5669
Norman5479
Kittson49022
Unassigned48093
Red Lake4017
Traverse3755
Lake of the Woods3453
Cook1720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 370583

Reported Deaths: 6041
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58186638
Linn21181339
Scott20287246
Black Hawk16065312
Woodbury15227230
Johnson1460585
Dubuque13496211
Dallas1128499
Pottawattamie11214173
Story1070848
Warren583591
Clinton561393
Cerro Gordo553193
Sioux516974
Webster514494
Muscatine4875106
Marshall486376
Des Moines466970
Wapello4333122
Buena Vista426140
Jasper420872
Plymouth402981
Lee381756
Marion365976
Jones300857
Henry294137
Bremer287760
Carroll286752
Boone268334
Crawford267840
Benton258755
Washington256751
Dickinson249344
Mahaska232251
Jackson225242
Clay216527
Kossuth216166
Tama211671
Delaware210943
Winneshiek197735
Page194522
Buchanan193033
Cedar192023
Hardin187344
Fayette186443
Wright185940
Hamilton181751
Harrison179973
Clayton171057
Butler165935
Madison164519
Mills163324
Floyd163042
Cherokee159338
Lyon158841
Poweshiek156936
Allamakee152652
Hancock150134
Iowa149824
Winnebago144331
Cass139255
Calhoun138913
Grundy137133
Emmet135841
Jefferson133535
Shelby131537
Sac130720
Union129935
Louisa129749
Appanoose129049
Mitchell126643
Chickasaw124517
Franklin123323
Guthrie123032
Humboldt119526
Palo Alto113623
Howard105022
Montgomery103638
Clarke100924
Keokuk96432
Monroe96230
Unassigned9540
Ida91535
Adair87332
Pocahontas85822
Davis85225
Monona82931
Osceola79016
Greene78011
Lucas77923
Worth7598
Taylor66712
Fremont6269
Decatur6159
Ringgold56324
Van Buren56318
Wayne54423
Audubon52910
Adams3444
Rochester
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Mason City
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Albert Lea
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Austin
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Hi: 85° Lo: 60°
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Charles City
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Hi: 87° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 70°
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