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Corona Economics

Gas prices ‘stifled’ by broken pandemic economy

Gas prices stay low another week.

According to a leading auto club, Florida’s gas prices start off June at the lowest level in 17 years.

While that represents a bargain at the pump, AAA — The Auto Club Group stresses that those low prices are driven by the economic disruption that started when COVID-19 precautions began in March.

“Pump prices remain stifled by lower-than-average fuel demand caused by COVID-19,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins. “Although gasoline demand has slowly recovered during recent weeks, it has not returned to a level that would cause pump prices to suddenly return to pre-pandemic levels.”

Average prices for 87 octane around the state are still well below the $2.00 “Mendoza line,” coming in at just $1.88 a gallon, a full 70 cents off 2019’s pace.

In fact, just one market comes in at $2 a gallon, and that’s the historically-expensive West Palm Beach, typically among the priciest pumps in the state.

Gainesville comes in three cents shy of WPB, with a $1.97 gallon of regular unleaded gasoline.

Somewhat farther behind, meanwhile, is Port St. Lucie, with an average per-gallon cost of $1.92.

The low end of the market likewise is dominated by familiar names.

Holding pride of place with the cheapest gallons in the state is Pensacola on the Panhandle, where motorists have to be happy with $1.80 gallons. The Crestview-Fort Walton Beach market comes in close behind, with prices at $1.84 on average.

But it isn’t just Panhandle drivers that have access to relative bargains.

In Jacksonville, a historic low-price leader, gas averages just $1.86 a gallon.

Looking forward to what may come for gas prices, some mixed signals come into play.

Oil prices crashed earlier in the Spring, but have begun a rebound fueled by loose money and global relief programs for connected business, and even West Texas Intermediate is back over $35 a barrel in Monday market action.

However, riots in the streets of major cities, along with curfew actions, pandemic precautions, and other historic anomalies could play a role in how much driving people do over the next week.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.
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