Don’t look now, but gas prices in Ohio are spiking. The cost for a gallon of unleaded regular has increased by more than 60 cents a gallon over the last three months. This morning, with the gas gauge firmly on E, I stopped at the neighborhood Duke station for a fill-up. To my chagrin, it cost $50.24 to top off the tank — and I had experienced the dreaded fifty-buck fill-up.
Gas prices are notoriously volatile. Nevertheless, experts expect the prices to continue to rise, and rapidly. The fact that prices are going through the roof during the dead of winter, traditionally a slow time for driving, is not a good sign. The predictions are for $4 a gallon prices by spring, and even higher prices by the summer driving season.
The last thing our battered economy needs right now is a gasoline price spike. People don’t budget for it, and if you are a commuter, as many Americans are, it is a cost you can’t avoid. The money that consumers use to pay for most costly gasoline will not be spent on other goods and services and therefore won’t be used to create new jobs. And the rising fuel costs will necessarily result in higher costs for goods delivered by truck — a category that includes everything from food to electronics — which means we may see an inflationary ripple effect in prices for a broad range of products. This is not good news for an economy still trying to recover from a recession, or for a worker who took a faraway job because he needed to do so to feed his family.