Local News

Rising gas prices squeezing pocketbooks

Posted April 28, 2011 5:04 p.m. EDT
Updated April 28, 2011 6:37 p.m. EDT

— Gas prices are up almost $1 a gallon from a year ago, and drivers say the increase is beginning to pinch their other spending.

The average price for a gallon of unleaded gas is $3.77 in the Triangle and $3.78 in Fayetteville. Those prices have jumped more than 20 cents since March.

"It used to take me $25 to fill my car up. Now, it takes me twice that," driver T.J. Briggs said Thursday.

"It is what it is. I have to get to work, so I don't even look at the gas prices," driver Karla Sessoms said. "I just fill it up when it gets empty and keep on going."

Mike Walden, an economist with North Carolina State University, estimated that consumers will spend an extra $83 a month for every $1-a-gallon increase in gas prices. The amount includes higher prices paid for groceries and other items that are shipped and have the price of gas factored in to their overall cost.

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan urged President Barack Obama's administration to work quickly to get to the bottom of rising gas prices. Obama recently appointed the Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group to determine what factors are driving up prices at the pump.

"If gas prices go up, we will see an economic impact to our tourism industry," Hagan said during a stop in Raleigh.

She said she wants the working group to bring its recommendations to Congress by July 4, and she also wants the group to assess the impact of higher gas prices on seniors living on fixed incomes, military families and veterans.

Gas prices typically increase during the summer, but AAA Carolina sales manager Jodi Woolard said it's unclear whether the prices will level off for a time before heading up again.

"We're hoping we've seen it level off now since it hasn't gone up any more in the last week, but again, it's hard to predict that," Woolard said.

Lorraine King, a native of Ireland, said a visit to her homeland would change the perspective of American drivers. There, gas is $9 to $10 a gallon, she said.

"People just need to rely on their cars less. Drive less," King said.