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California Still Has Highest Gas Despite Slight Price Drop; 50% Above Average in 2023

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As 2023 concludes, California drivers have grown accustomed to high gas prices prevailing after another year of rising gas costs.

A new analysis by Formrush shows that California gas prices are still the highest in the nation with some counties still paying over $6 for gas, that being 91.1% over the national average of $3.246.

This analysis drew retail gas price data for California counties from AAA and the EIA, comparing costs against the latest national average benchmark prices published openly online; we quantified differences between state and nationwide pricing in both absolute dollar and percentage premiums paid by Golden State drivers above the baseline US level.

According to historical data, the state recently recorded an average price per gallon of $4.85 – by far the highest statewide average nationwide this year, topping the overall U.S. level by $1.61 per gallon.

According to historical data, the state recently recorded an average price per gallon of $4.85 – among the highest statewide average nationwide this year, topping the overall U.S. level by $1.61 per gallon.

Expressed in percentage terms, California’s average gas price is about 50% higher than the national benchmark.

The over 50% price premium above the $3.25 national average in 2023 extends significant multi-year inflation from 2017 when statewide averages were around $3 per gallon.

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A review of annual per-gallon gasoline costs in California reveals a tremendous multi-year burden on drivers. Since the $3.08 average price in 2017, the state has witnessed a staggering 75% surge to $5.40 per gallon as 2023 wraps up.

This means a 15-gallon fill-up has skyrocketed from costing $45 in 2017 to well over $80 today – a massive added household economic pressure.

And the inflated prices currently show no sign of easing as California continues paying steep premiums beyond the national mainstream. With the US average gas price holding under $3.25 in November 2023, Golden State drivers face over a 50% higher cost per gallon presently.

This means additional fill-up charges of $25 for sedans and $50 for larger SUVs commonly requiring $80+ to refuel thanks to California’s isolated market dynamics disconnected from broader US pricing.

The costs add up quickly for already strained consumers just needing to commute to jobs or transport families for essential trips impacting budgets. Unfortunately, experts see few catalysts to significantly close the inflated Golden State gap anytime soon.

As 2023 concludes, many California drivers hope 2024 finally eases five straight years of savage gas price escalations.

However, updated national retail fuel forecasts from the Energy Information Administration indicate upward pricing pressure economy-wide next year.

Specifically, their latest report sees national retail gasoline climbing from an average of $3.62/gallon in 2023 to $3.69/gallon in 2024 – a 17-cent rise. Similarly, national retail diesel is now expected to hold at $4.29/gallon through 2024 rather than declining.

These reversed projections stem from tightening global oil supplies limiting output relative to demand recovery. With national benchmarks headed upwards, California’s already high gas costs will likely ride parallel, if not steeper, trajectories absent major shifts.

Therefore, our projections expect the current trajectory of increases to persist into 2024 without structural changes addressing root causes like limited in-state refining infrastructure. We predict another year of significant inflation – further squeezing household budgets battered by high fuel costs.

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