PULLMAN, WASH – For workers like 19-year-old Joey Montalto, the recent gas price surge has seen him spending more than normal. Mr. Montalto commutes nearly an hour and a half round trip every day for work and has noticed that as the gas prices steadily climb his weekly take-home pay is getting increasingly smaller.
“In the past couple months, I’ve paid the most for gas I’ve ever paid in the last few years,” Montalto explained. “With the position I’m in with my minimum wage job in Oregon which is not even the state that I live in, it definitely takes its toll on my weekly paychecks.”
In the last month alone, gas prices have risen across America by an average of 27 cents per gallon but some states have felt an even bigger surge. Arizona has seen the biggest one-month jump in gas prices by an average of 45 cents per gallon while Washington now holds the second-highest average in the country at nearly three dollars and 25 cents per gallon. The highest average in the country remains in California with prices near almost four dollars a gallon.
Although the majority of the speculations toward the recent rise of gas prices are pointed at supply and demand requirements, experts believe that there are other influences that are driving the price hike.
Ed Hirs is an economist with a focus on the energy sector. While he points out that supply and demand are contributing factors to the hike in gas prices there remain other influences that most people overlook. Mr. Hirs notes that with Saudi Arabia cutting back their production of oil and the American dollar devaluing by a modest ten percent over the last year, this has led to increased prices as well. Mr. Hirs is confident however that as time continues, the prices could drop if certain actions happen.
“You know it depends on when we get out of the pandemic if we’re surging ahead and it’s not just us getting vaccinated but everybody around the world and if we can get back to a world GDP growth,” Hirs stated. “So much production around the world came offline during the depth of the pandemic recession last summer that it’s slow to come back.”
Despite this outlook, Mr. Montalto believes that more people will be negatively affected before any type of relief at the pump will come.
“Not everybody has jobs anymore. Lots of people have lost their jobs because of the pandemic and with gas prices going up and these people not having an income, it will help run their banks dry quicker.” Montalto said.