Reports that a leading analyst doesn't expect the price of gasoline to fall any time soon probably are not what Alaskans want to hear as the summer vacation season approaches. Few things upset the people, and make politicians nervous, like a sharp and sustained rise in gasoline prices.
Both nationally and in Alaska, however, the stories of consumer outrage at the latest prices sometimes miss a few pieces in their telling. Complaining by consumers sometimes departs from reality.
What those stories should also be reporting, fairly prominently, is that prices remain below levels reached in the early 1980s when inflation is factored in, according to the Lundberg Survey, which has been tracking fuel prices across the nation for a couple of decades. It may not be much solace to consumers and business owners, but that's an important nugget to remember now that prices have hit a record high nationally. Alaska has its occasional gripe about prices, but is it real?
Alaskans sometimes claim that prices up here far exceed the price in the Lower 48. It isn't always so today, at least. Friday's findings by the Lundberg Survey found that the national average price at self-serve pumps was about $1.77 per gallon for regular, $1.87 for midgrade, and $1.96 for premium. In Fairbanks, prices stood at roughly the same as the national average: $1.78 for regular, about $1.89 for midgrade, and $1.99 for premium. Anchorage is about 7 cents lower in each grade than Fairbanks, Juneau is 6 to 7 cents higher.
Nationally, the average price has shot up 29 cents per gallon nationwide since December. And the high level will likely be with us for quite a while, apparently, due to the prospect of rising U.S. and global demand, the Lundberg report says. Alaskans have nowhere near the frustration evident in other parts of the nation. Hawaii, for example, may soon become the first state to impose price controls on gasoline because residents have grown testy over prices that reach $2.40 a gallon in some areas.
Yes, the high prices look to be here a while. But it's best to keep them in context while dipping into your wallet.
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner - March 29
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