You may pay more than ever for a late-summer drive.
US drivers paid an average of $3.72 per gallon on Monday. That’s the highest price ever on this date, according to the auto club AAA, a shade above the $3.717 average on Aug. 20, 2008. A year ago, the average was $3.578. In Massachusetts, the average was $3.73.
More daily records are likely over the next few weeks. The national average could increase to $3.75 per gallon by Labor Day, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service. By comparison, gas prices stayed below $3.70 in late August and early September in both 2008 and 2011.
Kloza and other analysts expect prices to start dropping after Labor Day, so drivers should not have to worry about a return to the April high of $3.94 per gallon, barring a hurricane or other unforeseen event.
Higher gas prices aren’t what the sluggish economy needs, since any money that has to be spent to fill the gas tank is not spent at movie theaters or restaurants.
Retail gasoline prices have risen nearly 12 percent since July 1 because of higher oil prices and problems with refineries and pipelines that created temporary supply shortages in some regions. An increase in the price of ethanol, which is blended into gasoline, was also a factor.
The pace of the increases has slowed considerably, however. Gas rose 19 cents in the two weeks ended Wednesday. It’s up just 1 penny in the five days since. Gas costs about 26 cents more than a month ago and 14 cents more than a year ago, according to AAA, OPIS, and Wright Express.
On Monday, oil fell slightly in New York trading after four days of gains. Benchmark oil dropped 4 cents to $95.97 per barrel in New York.