Today, the U.S. average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is 28.5 cents a gallon higher than it was a year ago, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report. In California today, prices are 34.1 cents a gallon higher than those of last year. But if the Martin Luther King Jr.holiday is any guide, the fuel bite today won't be any worse on American wallets than it was last year.
The reason is that U.S. drivers will burn about 36 million fewer gallons of gasoline today than they did last year, when they were bought about 370 million gallons, according to the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) in New Jersey. Today's consumption mark is even further below the pre-recession threshold of 391 million gallons a day set in January of 2008.
The drop in consumption is canceling out the fact that gasoline prices today are well over the record levels for this time of year that were set in 2011. The average price of a gallon of gasoline in California today is $3.703, up 14.7 cents since last month, according to the AAA. Nationally, the average is $3.381, up 15.3 cents since last month.
But the sharp drop in consumption meant that Americans spent about $1.15 billion on motor fuel over the course of the King holiday yesterday, roughly the same amount they spent last year.