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This Memorial Day weekend, prices at the gas pump are going down

The average US price of regular gasoline is now $2.75 a gallon, down from $2.87 a month ago. The last time prices at the gas pump fell leading up to Memorial Day was in 2005.

By Ron SchererStaff writer / May 28, 2010

The price for one gallon of regular unleaded gasoline appears on the sign in front of the Speedway gas station in Aurora, Ohio Tuesday. Memorial Day travelers will catch a break on gas prices this weekend, as the average US price of regular gasoline has dropped by 12 cents in the past month.

Amy Sancetta/AP


New York

For the first time in five years, US gasoline prices are falling as the Memorial Day holiday begins.

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For the 28 million Americans expected to hit the road this weekend, lower gasoline prices will give them more money to spend on ice cream, shrimp po’ boys, or a new pair of sunglasses. That may help assuage the frustration of hitting a traffic bottleneck or waiting for a stalled car to be moved.

It will also help people feel better about the economy, since gasoline expenses represent an instant out-of-pocket expense.

“It’s like a tax cut, a multibillion-dollar tax cut,” says economist Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pa. “No question, it’s good news.”

On a state-by-state basis, AAA says, the five most expensive places at the gas pump are Hawaii ($3.55 a gallon), Alaska ($3.50), Utah ($3.05), California ($3.04), and Idaho ($3.02). The least expensive states are Missouri ($2.52), Ohio ($2.55), South Carolina ($2.58), Oklahoma ($2.59), and Tennessee ($2.62).

The average US price of regular gasoline is now $2.75 a gallon, according to AAA. This is down from $2.87 a month ago. However, it’s 30 cents a gallon higher than Memorial Day last year – but prices were on the rise then, not falling.

The last time gasoline prices fell leading up to Memorial Day was in 2005, says the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Back then, prices dropped about 10 cents a gallon from the beginning of May to the end of that month.

Behind the recent fall, says Neil Gamson, an analyst at EIA in Washington, is a drop of about $20 a barrel in the price of crude oil. On May 3, a barrel of West Texas Intermediate sold for $86 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. By May 25, it had dropped to $65 a barrel.