Pain at the pump: Gas in Nevada least affordable in US
Although the Silver State isn’t home to the most expensive gas, prices for Nevadans hit their pocketbooks harder than any other state, according to a list compiled by insurance firm HiRoad.
Updated February 7, 2023 - 12:51 pm
Gas prices have been a hot topic over the past year with the volatile crude oil market largely tied to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and inflation.
In Southern Nevada, the area’s dependence on California for gasoline adds another wrinkle to the issue. Any time refineries in Southern California have an issue, prices go up in the Las Vegas Valley.
Nevada as a whole has been in the top-five most expensive states for gasoline for sometime. But the uncertain market has seen the Silver State go as high as No. 2 on that dubious list over the last year. As of Friday, Nevada ranked as the fourth-most expensive gas in the U.S., just behind Hawaii ($4.93 per gallon), California ($4.59) and Washington at $4.13 per gallon.
A bigger bite
Although the Silver State isn’t home to the most expensive gas, prices for Nevadans hit their pocketbooks harder than any other state on the list.
The average Nevadan spent 26.9 percent of their average hourly salary to pay for a single gallon of gasoline in 2022, making it the least affordable state for gas related to salary, according to insurance firm HiRoad. Idaho was the second least affordable state for gas at 23.6 percent of residents’ average hourly wage, while California at 23.3 percent was third, Indiana, fourth at 22.8 percent, and Hawaii, fifth at 22.5 percent.
HiRoad determined the gas impacts by state by comparing localized fuel data from GasBuddy and comparing that to average hourly salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“In Nevada, drivers can also expect to spend more annually on gas than drivers in Idaho, despite the fact that Idahoans are expected to have a higher local driving distance per year, on average,” HiRoad’s study noted.
Nevadans on average spent $1,747 on gas during 2022, up $308 from the $1,439 expended in 2021. The large jump in annual gas spending came as gas prices hit all-time highs last year.
Drivers are taking heed of increasing prices across the U.S., with 60 percent saying they were driving less because of gas prices, according to a 2022 survey by the National Association of Convenience Stores.
The price of gas remains above prices a year ago in Nevada; as of Friday, the average price of regular unleaded gasoline was at $4.01, up 2 cents from Thursday, up 3 cents from a month ago, but 18 cents cheaper year-over-year.
In Las Vegas, the average price of gas Friday sat at $3.97 per gallon, up 3 cents from the day prior, 4 cents over the last week and 15 cents cheaper than a year ago.
Prices could trickle upward
Although nothing wild is expected to happen in the coming weeks, prices are expected to trickle upward as spring approaches. This is in part due to areas on the West Coast switching to summer-blend gasoline, according to Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis with GasBuddy.com.
“That could put some upward pressure on prices,” DeHaan said. “The switch to summer gasoline usually inspires some increase in price, simply because of the various logistics behind the changeovers.”
The price increase tied to the summer grade switch might be mitigated at first because the cost of crude oil is low at this time.
“That could give pause to the rising gas prices, but I think that any drop or stabilization would be fairly short-lived,” DeHaan said. “It could be a week or couple of weeks that prices may drift a little bit lower, but it’s still probably the calm before the storm.”
‘Nothing on horizon just yet’
Planned refinery maintenance is set to occur as spring rolls around and any issues during that process, especially in California where Las Vegas receives most of its gas from, prices could spike.
“As we get into more of that maintenance around March and April. … I think we’ll see prices rising more notably,” DeHaan said. “If there’s any issues with any of these changeovers it could affect Las Vegas. But nothing is on the horizon just yet.”
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