On a Monday morning in Jersey City, New Jersey, professional caterer Edwin Rosales filled his tank at a BP gas station. Gas prices there, just outside of the Holland Tunnel to New York City, hovered around $5.06 per gallon — the average for the state.
"Either, A, I will find another part-time [job] when I only get three hours of sleep — it's very hard, and other than that, I don't have answers anymore," he told Cheddar News. "I just go on with life hoping tomorrow will be better."
As inflation continues to surge, national gas prices are charting record highs, pushing American wallets to the breaking point. National average gas prices hit a fresh high on Tuesday of about $5.02 a gallon, according to AAA. But prices vary from state to state and some, like New York and New Jersey, are outpacing the national average. In California, for example, the average price for a gallon of gas hit about $6.44 per gallon on Tuesday. Meanwhile, in states like Arkansas, Georgia, and Mississippi, average prices remained below $5 per gallon.
When added to soaring prices for food and housing, which are responsible for driving the consumer price index up 8.6 percent in May, rising gas prices are untenable for many Americans. One professional New York City cab driver said he's had to absorb the extra costs.
"No, nothing to do with the customer. These things, it's on me," he said. "You need to make the balance with these things. Once you've raised the price of the gas, at least the fee should be a little bit up. That's how we're going to cover the expenses."
Crude prices have surged more than 50 percent since December, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine. There are a number of other factors pushing gasoline prices higher, as well. Sanctions against Russia by the United States and its allies have put pressure on oil supplies. And although the U.S. is the largest oil producer in the world, the nation's capacity to refine oil into gasoline has tumbled precipitously, down 900,000 barrels per day since 2019, according to the Associated Press. As energy demand surges amid economic recovery and more Americans take to the road for the summer holidays, that's created a major bottleneck in the supply chain.
"There's not much you can do. We have to move to renewable energy," said Bob Lascio, as he filled his hybrid at the Jersey City BP.