Get out of town: Gas prices pump up

Get out of town: Gas prices pump up

04.19.2024

If you’re getting pumped for a summer road trip, don’t be surprised if a stop at the gas station leaves your wallet a little deflated. Gas prices have been edging higher since the start of the year, with the national average hitting $3.64 as of April 16, 2024, a 17.8% increase compared with $3.09 as of January 4, 2024, according to AAA.1 But warm-weather motorists may not need to reroute plans just yet: While the daily average continues to creep higher, it’s still 2 cents lower than the corresponding day last year, and substantially less than AAA’s highest recorded average of $5.016 on June 14, 2022.

What’s fueling the surge? The upward trend follows the typical pattern for spring2 as demand drives up prices, and AAA reports that factors such as the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and between Russia and Ukraine could add some additional pressure.3

What’s the cost of filling up?

According to Empower Personal Dashboard™ data as of April 2024, Americans are spending $52.35 on average at the pump per transaction — up 10.3% from $47.45 in December 2023, 2% more than the $51.31 average in September 2023, and the highest on average since the $52.52 average in August 2022. Still, even with the jump in the first quarter 2024, Americans are spending 11.7% less per transaction on average than they were at the peak point of $59.29 in June 2022.


*Anonymized user data from the Empower Personal Dashboard,™ June 2022 – April 2024.

Who’s spending the most at the pump?

Exactly how much Americans shell out each time they visit the gas station varies widely by state. Dashboard data shows New Yorkers fueling up spend the most per transaction at $82.75 on average as of March 2024 — up roughly 37% since September 2023, and about 35% more than a year ago. Alaska ranks second in the nation, with year-over-year average spend per transaction increasing 19% to $73.45 as of March 2024. Even so, the state saw a big dip in outlay in the last six months, with Last Frontier drivers paying 42% less per transaction on average in March 2024 than they did in September 2023.

U.S. states spending the most for gas on average by transaction

State

March 2024

September 2023

April 2023

Alaska

$73.45

$126.36

$61.58

California

$61.60

$63.88

$62.55

Connecticut

$63.15

$56.42

$65.70

Georgia

$57.55

$45.09

$44.57

New Jersey

$55.76

$56.25

$55.66

Nevada

$64.79

$56.63

$50.72

New York

$82.75

$60.51

$61.50

Oregon

$52.87

$56.26

$52.01

Rhode Island

$56.25

$52.67

$50.74

Washington

$53.13

$57.45

$52.38


*Anonymized user data from the Empower Personal Dashboard,™ April 2023 – March 2024. 

Overall expenditure per fill-up may be higher on average, but the total Americans are spending on average for fuel monthly tells a slightly different story. Dashboard data shows people spent an average of $199.96 on gas for March 2024, about the same as the December 2023 average of $199.51. People spent 8.9% less on average in March 2024 than the $219.54 average for September 2023, and 26.5% less than the June high of $272.17.

*Anonymized user data from the Empower Personal Dashboard,™ June 2022 – March 2024.

Will gas price hikes put the brakes on travel plans?

The steady march higher may be disappointing news for the roughly 3 in 4 Americans4 who say they prefer road trips over flying, but paying more at the pump is unlikely to hamper motorists altogether. According to recent Empower research, 47% Americans plan to spend more on travel as compared to last year. This, plus fewer planes available for the estimated record 4.7 billion people expected to travel in 2024,5 may tempt wanderlusters to get their kicks on Route 66.

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1Https://gasprices.aaa.com.

2Https://gasprices.aaa.com, “Gas prices march higher with the arrival of spring,” March 21, 2024.

3Https://gasprices.aaa.com, “Storm clouds abroad have gas prices on edge,” April 4, 2024.

4New York Post, “Why 3 in 4 American drivers prefer road trips over flying,” April 9, 2024.

5Reuters, “Airlines struggle with lack of planes as summer travel set to hit record levels,” April 9, 2024.

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*Anonymized user data from the Empower Personal Dashboard™ as of April 2024. This data analysis only includes a subset of our free tools users. Following is the list of exclusions: limited to users that logged in in the past year; excludes accounts that are deleted, test, or invalid/bogus.

The Currency editors

Staff contributors

The CurrencyTM, a publication from Empower, covers the latest financial news and views shaping how we live, work, and play. We keep you current on ways to plan, save, and invest for life.

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