Less pain at the pump: Gas prices continue to drop across Pennsylvania

A woman pumps gas at a GetGo Mini Mart in Valencia, Pa., on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

By Patrick Berkery

November 29, 2023

The decline in gas prices in the commonwealth — down 12 cents from a month ago and 40 cents from this time last year — reflects what’s happening at the pumps across the country.

This time last year, Pennsylvanians were paying an average of $3.96 for a gallon of regular gas. Teetering on the brink of $4 a gallon was actually good news, considering gas prices across the state reached a record high of $5.07 in June.

The news is even better this year. ​​As of Wednesday, the statewide average price for gas was $3.56 according to AAA, down from $3.58 a week ago, and $3.70 a month ago.

Here’s a breakdown of the current average gas cost per gallon in Pennsylvania’s top 10 metro areas, with the average cost per gallon this time last year in parentheses:

  • Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton: $3.41 ($3.86)
  • East Stroudsburg: $3.46 ($3.91)
  • Erie: $3.54 ($4.08)
  • Harrisburg-Carlisle: $3.57 ($3.98)
  • Lancaster: $3.48 ($3.97)
  • Philadelphia: $3.54 ($3.90)
  • Pittsburgh: $3.62 ($3.92)
  • Reading: $3.54 ($3.93)
  • Scranton-Wilkes-Barre: $3.57 ($4.00)
  • York-Hanover: $3.61 ($4.06)

The decline in gas prices in the commonwealth reflects what’s happening at pumps across the country. 

Gas prices have fallen or remained steady since Sept. 19 — marking about a 70-day trajectory of decline, Andrew Gross, spokesperson for motor club AAA, said Tuesday.

As of Tuesday, the national average for gas prices stood just below $3.25, according to AAA. That’s down 25 cents from a month ago and 30 cents less than this time last year. Experts point to a recent decline in oil prices and a seasonal dip in demand, as well as easing inflation.

Each penny decline in the national average saves motorists close to $3.8 million, according to Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “If you amplify that times 30 cents, we’re talking about Americans that are spending hundreds of millions less on gasoline today than they were a year ago.”

A few factors contribute to today’s gas prices, but a big explanation behind the decline is seasonality. In other words, prices at the pump almost always ease at this time of year.

For starters, there’s a switch to winter blend gasoline — which is cheaper to produce than the summer blend, Gross notes. And, despite some upticks around the holidays, shorter days make hitting the road less enticing in the colder months.

On top of the seasonal cycle, inflation, while down from last year, is still high and continues to undercut Americans’ spending habits — which could also be contributing to today’s lower demand.

Beyond demand, experts also point to declining oil costs. Prices at the pump are highly dependent on crude oil, which is the main ingredient in gasoline. West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, has stayed in the high-to-mid $70s for the past three weeks — standing at about $76 a barrel as of Tuesday afternoon, down from over $82 a month ago.

Oil is a global commodity, so events impacting production and supply such as the Russia-Ukraine war can be felt domestically. There’s also been a notable uptick in US production that is helping to curb prices.

At the start of October, American oil production hit an all-time high of 13.2 million barrels per day, passing the previous record set in early 2020 by 100,000 barrels. Average production has since remained at that level, according to the government’s latest data through the week of Nov. 17.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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