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US gas prices fall below $4 for first time since March

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Regular unleaded gas price averages reached a high of $5.02 in mid-June./AFP
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Aug 12, 2022 - 06:37 AM

NEW YORK — It’s not too late for a road trip: The US average price of gasoline at the pump has finally fallen below $4.00 a gallon, providing a bit of relief for Americans struck by massive inflation at almost every turn.

In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, prices soared, pushing past $5.00 for the first time in mid-June, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).

Falling global oil prices in recent weeks, however, caused that average to fall to $3.99 Thursday — the first time below $4.00 since early March.

The White House cheered the encouraging news.

“This is providing much needed breathing room for families across the country,” said Cecilia Rouse, head of the Council of Economic Advisors, while noting that “we have more work to do to bring inflation down.”

Prices vary greatly across the United States, with drivers paying an average of $4.94 a gallon in Nevada and just $3.49 in Texas, according to AAA.

“We’ve never seen anything like 2022 at the pump, highlighted by once-in-a-lifetime events including the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which caused myriad imbalances, exacerbated by Russia’s war on Ukraine,” price tracking site GasBuddy said in a report Tuesday.

Despite the recent declines AAA said fewer drivers fueled up their vehicles last week.

“It’s another sign that, for now, Americans are changing their driving habits to cope with higher pump prices,” the auto group said.

Almost two-thirds of Americans reported having changed their driving habits or lifestyle since March, including driving less, combining errands and reducing shopping or dining out, according to a AAA survey released at the end of July.

A tank of gas is far from the only factor punching Americans in the pocketbook, however, as food and housing costs continue to rise.

About 80 percent of metropolitan areas across the country experienced double-digit annual increases in the median price for a single-family home in the April-June period, according to a report released Thursday by the National Association of Realtors.

The national median home price jumped 14.2 percent from a year ago, NAR said, despite climbing mortgage rates and slumping home sales.

Soaring US inflation has been fueled not only by aggressive consumer spending of pandemic savings and Russia’s war on Ukraine but also global supply chain snarls and domestic worker shortages.

Americans are beginning to see some relief: Official data released Wednesday showed consumer price inflation slowed last month, pulling back from a 40-year high that had left many families struggling to make ends meet.

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