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The cost of gasoline the year you started driving

  • 2017

    - Absolute gas price: $2.41
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.54 (#29 least expensive year in 84-year span)

    Crude oil makes up about half the price of a gallon of gas, so as crude oil prices began to creep back up in 2017, gasoline prices followed suit. Summer is typically a time for gas prices to rise, and the summer of 2017 was no different. This time, however, price hikes were due not just to the usual increase in demand, but to the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Harvey, which hit the coast of Texas in August and caused more than $120 billion in damage. Texas is a key source of American oil, and the hurricane-damaged oil refineries and crucial infrastructure, causing a rise in gasoline prices.

  • 2018

    - Absolute gas price: $2.74
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.82 (#29 most expensive year in 84-year span)

    Many Americans may expect to spend a little extra around Thanksgiving, but in 2018, higher than usual November gas prices meant that the holiday commute to your in-laws may have been even pricier. While these November pump prices were up 4 cents from the year prior, experts in the oil and gas industry noted that it was still a time of relatively low prices. They connected this to OPEC's 2014 decision not to institute production cuts, causing oil and gasoline prices around the world to fall.

  • 2019

    - Absolute gas price: $2.64
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.66 (#35 least expensive year in 84-year span)

    The trade war between the U.S. and China represented the biggest precipitator of decreasing prices in 2019. As concerns grew and investors bet on an economic downturn, according to a June 2019 New York Times article, crude oil prices dropped over 20% from their April peak. The article also cites a AAA report that gasoline prices followed suit, as is typically the case, and also fell—exceeding a 7% change from 2018. Forbes' Robert Rapier reported in August that the price of crude oil dropped the most in more than four years. 

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  • 2020

    - Absolute gas price: $2.19
    - Inflation-adjusted price: $2.19 (#65 least expensive year in 84-year span)

    In April 2020, U.S. crude oil futures for May reached a record low of minus $37.63, representing a nearly 300% drop and the biggest valuations falloff in history. The industry has yet to recover, with global demand unlikely to reach pre-COVID-19 levels before the end of the year.

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