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As gas prices hit $5 a gallon, what's causing the ongoing surge?

The national average price for a gallon of gasoline has jumped 19 cents in just the past week, and it’s up $1.93 from this time last year.

NEW YORK — The nationwide average price for a gallon of gasoline has topped $5 for the first time ever.

Auto club AAA said the average price on Saturday was $5.00. Motorists in some parts of the country, especially California, are paying far above that.

The national average price has jumped 19 cents in just the past week, and it's up $1.93 from this time last year.

There are several reasons for the surge in gasoline prices.

Americans typically drive more starting around Memorial Day, so demand is up. Global oil prices are rising, compounded by sanctions against Russia, a leading oil producer, because of its war against Ukraine. And there are limits on refining capacity in the United States because some refineries shut down during the pandemic.

Add it all up, and the cost of filling up is draining money from Americans who are facing the highest rate of inflation in 40 years.

California has the highest average price, at $6.43, according to AAA. The lowest average is Mississippi, at $4.52.

While this is the first time breaking the $5 barrier, it's still not a record when inflation is taken into account. Gas peaked at $4.11 a gallon in July 2008, which would be equal to about $5.40 a gallon today.

Credit: AP
Prices per gallon are displayed over labels of various grades of gasoline at a Shell station Thursday, June 8, 2022, in Littleton, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Consumer prices surged 8.6% last month from a year earlier, faster than April’s year-over-year increase of 8.3%, the Labor Department said Friday. The new inflation figure, the highest since 1981, will heighten pressure on the Federal Reserve to continue raising interest rates aggressively.

On a month-to-month basis, prices jumped 1% from April to May, much faster than the 0.3% increase from March to April. Contributing to that surge were much higher prices for everything from airline tickets to restaurant meals to new and used cars. Those price spikes also elevated so-called “core” inflation, a measure that excludes volatile food and energy prices. In May, core prices jumped a sharp 0.6% for a second straight month. They're now 6% above where they were a year ago.

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