Gas prices see steady climb

Feb. 12, 2013 @ 05:10 PM

Gas prices have been shooting skyward, and the trend could continue as the economy improves.At the start of the year, gas prices looked to be stabilizing around $3.30 a gallon but have increased rapidly since then.

According to AAA Carolinas, gas prices in the Triad hover at $3.54, but just a month ago a gallon of regular unleaded was about 15 cents cheaper.

Angela Daley, public relations manager with AAA Carolinas, said the increase is a sign of an improving economy.

“The economy is starting to improve, and we’re hearing positive economic news both domestic and internationally,” she said. “Stocks are up, housing market is improving and unemployment is trending downward. When the economy is good, demand goes up, and gas prices go up.”

Additionally, refineries are preparing to switch to summer-blend gasoline, which restricts output and tightens supply.

One year ago, gas prices in the Triad were at $3.59. At the end of 2012, prices had gotten as low as $3.02 in some places in the area.

“It started going up a couple weeks before the end of December due to crude oil prices,” Daley said. “An increase of 14 percent from mid-December is being reflected at the pumps.”

Residents aren’t as upset about the rise as they were the first time gas prices starting reaching into the mid-$3 range.

“I’ve just gotten used to paying whatever it is we have to pay,” said Warren Siler of High Point. “I have to use gas.”

While gas hasn’t returned to pre-Recession prices, they have hovered in the mid-$3 range for about a year with fluctuations up or down periodically.

“As long as we aren’t up near $4 again, I’m OK,” said Leah Spencer of High Point. “We aren’t doing a bunch of traveling now. It’s basically to work and back, the kids ride the bus home.”

Tamera Taylor of High Point said she is glad for her car.

“I get really good gas mileage, so I don’t have to fill up as often, which is good, especially when prices start going up like now,” she said.

Nationally, since Jan. 17, the price at the pump has jumped 23 cents per gallon and increased for 18 straight days. This is the longest streak since prices rose for 21 consecutive days July 28-Aug. 18.

“The recent price surge has been largely the result of higher crude oil prices and the ‘rubber-banding’ of mid-continent retail gasoline prices, which fell dramatically to end the year and are now swinging back to the upside,” said AAA federal relations manager Avery Ash.

jhowse@hpe.com | 888-3617