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Are rising pump prices actually a good thing?
Gas is going up, but it may be a sign of a better economy
Swain Lawson puts up the nozzle after filling up his car Monday at the Texaco station on Dawsonville Highway. - photo by Tom Reed

Higher fuel prices may be a harbinger of a recovering economy.

The average price for regular gas in Gainesville was $2.27 per gallon on Monday, according to Jessica Brady, spokeswoman for AAA Auto Club South.

Monday’s price was 13 cents above the price last month, and increased significantly over the last week because of, among other things, indications that the economy may be beginning to recover.

Unemployment claims in April were an improvement over those from the prior three months, Brady said. The improvement caused industry insiders to bid higher on crude oil futures based on the belief that businesses and consumers will soon demand more fuel.

However disconcerting to the customer, Brady said the higher price is the cost of economic recovery.

“While people’s 401(k)s may be looking a little healthier, they shouldn’t be surprised to see retail gas prices increase either,” Brady said.

Higher gas prices may be heralding healing in the economy, but Gainesville resident Cary Sinnett said they were a sign of something else to come.

“I also probably think it’s a harbinger of gas prices going back to where they were last summer,” Sinnett said.

Sinnett filled his 18-gallon tank Monday at the Texaco at Lakeshore on Dawsonville Highway for 10 cents less per gallon than the city’s average. He said he bought a second, smaller car last summer when gas prices rose above $4 a gallon, but said he hoped not to see the same price tag again this year.

But AAA expects prices for regular to peak at $2.50 by Labor Day weekend in September, and Monday’s price is still nowhere near the average price of regular unleaded a year ago today when Gainesville customers were paying $3.78 per gallon.

Aside from the economic indicators, an increase in fuel price is normal for May, the month considered to be the beginning of the summer travel season, said Mike Thornbrugh, manager of public and government relations for QuikTrip.

Gas prices usually rise in the summer for residents around the metropolitan areas not only because of higher demand, but because a combination of federal and state clean air laws require retailers to sell special blends of fuel that burn cleaner than regular fuel.

The “summer blend” fuels, which are different depending on the region help reduce smog between June and September, but result in higher gas prices, Thornbrugh said.

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