(Natural News) Drivers in the U.S. are facing record-high gas prices this summer as more people hit the road in the wake of pandemic restrictions easing. Filling up the tank is a lot more expensive than it was at this time last year as people resume activities that were put on hold during the pandemic. This high demand is joining forces with lagging supply to drive prices up. Right now, the average national price of regular gasoline is sitting at $3.14 a gallon.
Although that is only one cent more than last week, the average last year at this time was 94 cents less at $2.20. Since January, gas prices have risen from $2.33 per gallon, and all signs point to higher prices on the horizon.
The price of crude oil, which is the base product used to produce gas, continues to climb, hitting levels last seen in late 2018. At the same time, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is resisting calls to increase production to meet the rising demand for oil.
Production has dropped from 29.3 million gallons per day in 2019 to 25.5 million gallons per day in May, and the markets are experiencing a global shortfall of 5 million barrels per day. Talks among members of OPEC and allied oil producing nations broke off in a standoff earlier this month with the United Arab Emirates about production levels.
High gas prices hitting families who are already struggling
The current trend is prompting concerns that rising gas prices will make inflation worse and impact post-pandemic economic recovery. Analysts expect the impact of rising gas prices will hit low-income families the hardest, many of which are already struggling to cover their basic needs like food, utilities, rent and medicine. According to the Census Household Pulse Survey, one out of every three families with children struggled to pay their household expenses last month.