Gas Prices Reach New High

MSNBC – U.S. gas prices reach record high

Prices for all grades of gasoline rose 1.34 cents in the last two weeks to a record high nationwide average of $1.77 a gallon, according to a study released Sunday.

Gas prices have jumped by nearly 26 cents so far this year, and while they won’t be falling by that amount any time soon, they aren’t expected to rise much higher, according to the Lundberg survey of 8,000 stations nationwide. The survey was conducted Friday.

The previous combined average record high was $1.76 in May 2001.

Of course, these sort of comparisons are silly since they don’t adjust for inflation. In real dollars, the current rates* are quite normal:

California Energy Commission

Indeed, real gas prices were substantially higher in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

*Note: The chart prices are for unleaded regular, whereas the $1.77 figure is the average of prices paid for all grades. But the chart is for California, which tends to have higher prices.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. prices have peaked for this year barring some unforseen problem.

  2. Nick says:

    Let’s see: since the 50’s, real incomes have doubled, gasoline has GREATLY increased in quality, AND car engines are much more efficient such that we use less gas per mile travelled. Yeah, sounds real terrible.

    I think it’s funny that these same people that bitch about how “high” gas prices are making it too expensive to get to their weekend homes are the same ones who go inside the convenience mart at the gas station to get a $3 bottle of Evian that is probably 1/8 of a gallon.

  3. cj says:

    But isn’t the unspoken issue the fact that OPEC is shorting productivity to drive prices higher? (Please correct me if I’m wrong on this.) i.e., is “Arabia” using market manipulation for political means, via economic means? Don’t tell me that they always do this — tell me what the ramifications are in the current situation.

    If you are saying that “this is nothing noteworthy” please address the media effect of making it “noteworthy.” Or the fact that it is “noteworthy” to many of us consumers — i.e., it changes my ‘summer vacation’ plans, thus impacts the economy. (Because I am seeing higher prices at the pump, and I’m edgy that they may go higher in the next few months. I’m also seeing headlines like, “truckers stalled due to higher diseil fuel prices.”)

    Much thanks, as I’m sure you are better informed on this, and I would appreciate your addressing these issues.

  4. James Joyner says:


    Higher gas prices certainly impact the economy simply because of the ubiquity of gasoline. It’s used in everything and affects everything. But $1.77 gas in 2004 is much cheaper in real dollars than it was years ago. And, as Nick notes, people think nothing of paying substantially more per volume for bottled tap water.