Kentucky gas price jump goes against national trend

Published 10:35 am Tuesday, June 20, 2023

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By Steve Bittenbender

The Center Square

It’s not nearly as bad as it was this time last year, but gas prices are on the way back up in Kentucky.

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Data from AAA showed the statewide average price was $3.399 per gallon Friday, up 7 cents from the week before. Only Oregon, Florida, Illinois, Washington state and Colorado saw their average price for regular unleaded jump higher over the same timeframe.

Nationally, those states and Kentucky bucked the trend that has seen gas prices plateau. The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded was $3.583, the same as last week.

That’s a far cry from the national record of $5.106 per gallon set a year ago this week. Kentucky’s record average of $4.798 also occurred a year ago.

AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross said that the national trend may be due to a “bit of a demand lull” leading up to the next month’s vacation period.

“Drivers are benefitting financially, with 20 gallons of gas costing nearly $30 less than last year,” Gross said. “And with the cost for oil low, drivers will find pump prices that are flat or drifting slightly lower for now.”

That’s not the case, though, in Louisville, where the average price for regular shot up to $3.821 on Friday. That’s a more than 30-cent increase from the week before but more than $1.10 lower than what drivers paid a year ago.

Louisville’s stark increase has fueled most of the price hike in Kentucky. Only the Elizabethtown area, about 45 miles south of Louisville, has seen a similar jump in price. On June 9, drivers were paying $3.087 per gallon. On Friday, it was 23 cents more.

There are still places in Kentucky where regular unleaded can be found for less than $3 per gallon. The average price was $2.995 in Simpson County, which is on the Tennessee state line 30 minutes north of Nashville, and Bell County, in the southeastern corner of the state, had Kentucky’s cheapest average at $2.944.

Kentucky’s average price is in the middle compared to its neighboring states. Drivers in Tennessee were paying the cheapest price at $3.173, while Illinois had the highest average at $4.046.

Nationally, California has the highest average price at $4.876 per gallon, while Mississippi’s $3.003 is the lowest.