Gas prices lowest in three years over long weekend

This Labor Day Weekend saw the lowest gas prices in at least three years, AAA reports.

Gas prices dropped in every state except for Hawaii. Idaho saw the largest decrease of 16.8 percent, followed by Utah, Wyoming, Alaska and Colorado.

The national average of $2.58 per gallon is about 25 cents less than last year’s prices, and 5 cents less than 2017’s, during the same time period.

Louisianans, Mississippians, and Texans pay the least for gas, at about $2.20 a gallon, compared to Hawaii’s $3.66 a gallon.

The highest gas prices still tend to be in the West, upper Midwest and Northeast, AAA reports, where gas costs anywhere between $2.78 and $3.70 per gallon, and up.

California’s average gas price of $3.57 per gallon is nearly $1 higher than the national average. Some California counties are seeing prices as high as $5 per gallon.

Paying less for gas has resulted in more people having more pocket money to spend, AAA reports, including on road trips.

“When gas prices are cheaper, we tend to see more people traveling,” AAA spokesperson Jeanette Casselano said. “People feel more inclined to take those road trips because they feel like they’re getting a better bang for their buck.”

Lower gas prices come at a time when U.S. consumer confidence is at its highest in 19 years, according to data released by The Conference Board’s index.

Bloomberg News reports the data exceeded all estimates in its survey of economists, with the highest views on the current economic climate at their highest since November 2000.

The index “shows hiring and income gains are keeping consumers upbeat and assuaging concerns about the economy’s prospects in light of slowing global growth, volatile financial markets and escalating U.S.-China trade tensions,” Bloomberg reports.

“While other parts of the economy may show some weakening, consumers have remained confident and willing to spend,” Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a statement. “However, if the recent escalation in trade and tariff tensions persists, it could potentially dampen consumers’ optimism regarding the short-term economic outlook.”

Increased consumer confidence and increased road travel stems in part from more people working who have more money to spend.

In July, nonfarm payroll employment rose by 164,000, with an unchanged national unemployment rate of 3.7 percent. In June, 224,000 nonfarm jobs were added, far more than what economists predicted.

According to Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), because of sweeping tax reform implemented in 2017, 90 percent of American wage earners have higher take-home pay. ATR compiled a list of hundreds of employers in most states who are hiring, raising pay, increasing benefits, upgrading equipment and expanding operations citing tax reform.

This article was first published by The Center Square.

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