Gas prices continued to rise in most parts of the country the past week to a national average of $3.68 for a gallon of regular unleaded, the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report said Thursday. That's just 2 cents off of 2014's previous peak price.
In its weekly assessment of price trends, AAA said concerns over the ongoing violence in Iraq were keeping oil prices hovering around $106 a barrel, making it more expensive to produce gasoline.
Previously, AAA predicted gas prices would fall 10 to 15 cents per gallon during June, following a typical pattern for lower pump prices in early summer, but in a statement the organization said "that now appears unlikely due to higher oil costs. This means that even though the national average has only increased a few cents per gallon since the Iraq violence intensified, drivers are likely to pay substantially higher gas prices than they would have otherwise."
Indeed, the national average for regular unleaded gasoline is 14 cents higher than a year ago, and AAA pegs it as the highest early summer average since 2008.
The national average crept up a penny the past week, and if prices continue to climb, it could soon approach the 2014 peak of $3.70, set on April 28. Diesel fuel also rose 1 cent the past week, to $3.90, which is 6 cents higher than a year ago.
Motorists in some states are paying substantially more for gas than a year ago. In Ohio, for example, the $3.68 average for regular unleaded is 25 cents higher than on June 26, 2013, even after prices fell 12 cents the past week. The $3.78 average in Pennsylvania is 28 cents higher than a year ago, and drivers in Kentucky and Michigan are paying 31 cents more per gallon this year.
The biggest increase the past week was in Alaska, where pump prices jumped 11 cents to $4.20. That is the second highest statewide average behind Hawaii's $4.34. California is next at $4.12, and Washington state is perilously close to joining the $4-per-gallon club at $3.999. Prices have also climbed in recent weeks in Oregon, where the average is $3.97. Though prices rose in a majority of states, motorists in the Great Lakes region experienced some relief. Prices fell 5 cents in Illinois to $3.88 and 12 cents in Ohio and Indiana, the latter to $3.71.
South Carolina has the cheapest gas with a statewide average of $3.41, and Alabama is close behind at $3.44. Mississippi is next at $3.47, followed by Tennessee at $3.48. Motorists in those states are paying at least 15 cents more per gallon for regular unleaded compared to a year ago.
Cars.com photo by Evan Sears