Gas prices are finally on the way down, especially in the Great Lakes region, according to oil analyst Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at Gasbuddy.com.
DeHaan said the biggest weekly decline occurred in Michigan, where the average price at the pump fell by 27.3 cents per gallon.
“As our data confirms, consumers in the Great Lakes region saw the greatest relief, by far,” he said.
From Oct. 11 through Oct. 18 the most notable price decreases included Indiana, down 23 cents per gallon, and Illinois, down 19 cents per gallon.
According to Gasbuddy average retail gasoline prices in Gary have fallen 21.1 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.39 on Oct. 21. This compares with the national average that has fallen 9 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.67, according to Garygasprices.com.
Including the change in gas prices in Gary the past week, prices Oct. 21 were 11.5 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 48.9 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 14.2 cents per gallon the last month and stands 20.1 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.
“Only one other time in the last few years have we seen the national average drop so significantly in the course of just a week and that other time was in May 2011,” DeHaan said.
DeHaan said prices only dropped considerably more in autumn 2008 when the economy slipped into a recession. DeHaan said it’s significant that the latest decrease “has nothing to do with recession.”
Micah Pollak, assistant professor of Economics, Indiana University Northwest, said gas prices are important to the citizens of Northwest Indiana and for the regional economy.
“Because of the lack of public transportation the vast majority of residents rely on cars to travel to and from home, work and school,” he said. “I even have students who say they missed class because they could not afford the gas to drive to campus. High gas prices also tend to disproportionately affect the middle and lower income families. The fall in gas prices may mean that local residents are better able to afford the drive to work, school and the mall.”
Pollack said the decline in gas prices might also effect the election.
“While in reality politicians have very little influence on gas prices, the public often holds them responsible,” he said. “When gas prices fall this close to an election it generally benefits incumbents and may have some effect on the outcome of close races.”
Pollak said while crude prices have fallen lately, what ultimately causes such a sudden decline in gas prices is not immediately obvious. One factor, he said, may be a relaxing of international tensions, particularly in the Middle East.
“Ultimately lower prices at the pump are always a relief for consumers, who can use what they save at the pump on other goods, and businesses, which may benefit from lower operating costs,” he said.
However, Pollak said unless the price drop is for a tangible and significant reason any relief is probably for the short term.
Luke Oil President Tom Collins Sr. believes the drop was temporary.
“It appears wholesale prices jumped rapidly towards the end of the week taking back all the decreases and then some,” he said.