Local News

Higher fuel prices extend pain beyond pump

Posted April 11, 2008
Updated April 30, 2008

— Record gas prices affect more than the drive across town, according to economists.

The average price of a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline nationwide is $3.35, up 55 cents from a year ago, according to AAA, which surveys 60,000 gas stations across the country each day. In the Triangle, the average price is $3.33, up 57 cents from a year ago.

The cost of oil is fueling market-wide inflation, said Mike Walden, an economics professor at North Carolina State University.

"We've seen inflation outside of gasoline running about 2 (percent or) 2.5 percent a year. Recently, however, it's been running closer to 3 (percent or) 3.5 percent," Walden said. "Gas is an input in most things we buy because most things we buy have a fuel component."

Plastic uses petroleum, so food packaging costs have increased. Some ingredients like corn, which is increasingly used to make ethanol as an alternative fuel, also have gone up in price.

"We're taking corn, which is important as a feed to livestock, out of the food system and into the fuel system," Walden said.

A price of an individual Little Debbie cake, for example, went from 25 cents to 35 cents last fall because of the added costs. The price had remained at 25 cents for 25 years.

Little Debbie spokesman Mike Gloekler said higher fuel and corn costs "definitely played a part" in the price increase.

The price of gasoline itself also pushes up food costs.

"We in this country rely on products and, to some extent, services being driven by vehicle," Walden said.

Tremayne Bass said the price of soft drinks he stocks in area convenience stores and supermarkets for Long Transport Inc. have gone up more than 25 percent in the past year because of fuel costs.

"Some of our sodas are around $19, $20 a case. That's up $4 in the past year," Bass said.

Pizza restaurants have adopted surcharges of up to $1.50 for each delivery, and moving companies and flower shops are also charging higher delivery fees.


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  • whatelseisnew Apr 11, 2008


    Sometimes you are just too funny. But that is something that is really going to bite us in the wallet down the road. Our own State Legislature handed a big old gravy boat to the power companies with that Alternative energy bill they passed. Now this is second had info, I have not actually read the Federal bill myself, but I was told that companies are going to be have emission levels set by the Feds. If they exceed their allowed limits they can be fined. However, if they purchase carbon offsets they can avoid this fine. So naturally buying a carbon offset becomes an expense write off, or the cost of it will be passed along to the consumer of that companies products.

  • tsquaring Apr 11, 2008

    Drill in ANWAR, on the coast, and build new refineries!

  • whatelseisnew Apr 11, 2008


    What are you talking about? Most of the posts here are talking about things that have various levels of impact on oil prices. I stayed away from this earlier, but one of the factors is the ongoing war. We certainly are burning up a lot of fuel, and now that they are back shipping oil, sometimes there is a burp in the oil from Iraq and when that happens it helps drive price speculation on the crude. Heck when you get that saber rattling from the Iranian leader the oil speculators go crazy. Sometimes I think he is doing that stuff just to help keep the price higher.

  • colliedave Apr 11, 2008

    blame algore and his movie "A Convenient Pack of Lies"

  • 5-113 FA Retired Apr 11, 2008

    I can't wait until all you bushmongers have a new "former administration" to blame for the woes of humanity as YOU know it. For me, I needen't look any further than your elected oficials that have the authority to do something about it. ENOUGH about cause and effect of ancient history, what are you doing about it NOW besides the usual, nuthin'? Get over it! The Clintons are history as will soon will be Bush and his stooges. Unless we get rid of this two party system, we'll all condinue to digress to the future in the next epoisode of Planet of the Apes.

  • irishale Apr 11, 2008

    Here's some tidbits I picked up from various news sources... unfortunately I can't remember the whos/wheres, so take it w/ a grain of salt:

    1 1/2 years ago, refiners made $37 per barrel of crude making gasoline. Now it's $12. Refineries, seeing their profits go down, have no incentive to keep the refineries running so hard... coupled with reduced demand since we're driving more efficient cars now, we have bigger gas stocks than ever. No shortage there.

    I read our oil stocks are the highest they've ever been. Someone in the Saudi org. said today that there is no shortage, they have plenty to meet demand... that's not what's driving up oil prices.

    2 things: weak dollar, and speculation on the commodities market. I read that x number of years ago (maybe 4 or 6) there was $9 billion in oil futures... this spring, it was $250 billion or so. THERE is where your demand is... a FALSE demand, buyers who aren't buying it to use, only to invest to make money, skewing the system.

  • whatelseisnew Apr 11, 2008


    I am not going there, yes the Democrats have not done much of anything, but what was somewhat falsely driving our economy was the housing stuff. That driver collapsed, similar to the dot.com collapse near the end of Clinton second term. This collapse was actually worse because it had a much broader ripple affect. Much as I hated to see the Fed reserve and some of the other central banks get in on that Bear Sterns fiasco, I think had they not taken an action, we could have gotten a bad domino affect. We have some more stupidity coming down the pike when that 150 Billion gets flushed.

  • TheDecider Apr 11, 2008

    Higher pump prices act as a tax on the consumer, and do not feed inflation. The consumer will have fewer dollars to spend elsewhere, not more. Inflation isn't indicated by a higher price for a commodity, and the term is being mis-used.

  • whatelseisnew Apr 11, 2008


    Absolutely, speculation in the futures market does have a lot of impact. I just mentioned the things I did, because these are things that a lot of Americans could choose to do. Course we could all join the speculation game like some folks did with housing, but that is one game where you better know what you are doing. I would sure love to see us drill where we know oil exists, and get some new refineries on line, but between the environmentalists and the Gobal warming crowd it is not very likely. Anyway for the oil companies, the big bucks are not in the refineries, it is in the crude.

  • OLD PIRATE Apr 11, 2008

    We blame everything on Bush but if you think about it things were going pretty good until the democrats took over congress 2 years ago...Now who do you think we should blame.