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With COVID-19 keeping people home, gas prices at record low levels

There may not be many places you could go right now, but if you could it would be a lot cheaper to get there.

As most people in Pennsylvania shelter in place, not going out to restaurants or stores and commuting only to the most essential jobs, gas prices are hitting record lows.

Some states have seen drops as high as 40 cents per gallon over this time last month.

“We’ve seen a drop in demand. We don’t have as many people driving as we normally do,” said Thresa Podguski, director of legislative affairs for AAA East Central in Allentown.

She said while the original gas price drops, which began in February, were largely due to crude price wars between Saudia Arabia and Russia, the latest declines could be attributed to the lower demand caused by people staying at home.

  • In Pennsylvania the average price for a gallon of gas as of March 24 was $2.33, down from $2.45 on March 17 and significantly lower that the price on March 24 of last year, when it was at $2.79.
  • In the Lehigh Valley the average price for a gallon of gasoline was $2.28, down from $2.42 on March 17 and $2.78 cents on March 24 of last year.
  • The average price for a gallon of gasoline in the Harrisburg area was $2.32, down from $2.38 cents one week ago and $2.64 this time last year.
  • In Berks County the average price for a gallon of gasoline was $2.41 down from $2.67 cents one week ago and $2.77 this time last year.

Because of the low demand from people not driving, Podguski said that gasoline stocks have declined to stock levels of 62 million barrels in the Mid-Atlantic region as regional refinery use is down to its lowest point since 2012.

That has kept prices in the region slightly higher than those in other parts of the country, even though they are dropping to extremely low levels.

To put the prices in perspective, she said spring is traditionally the time when people get out and drive more.

“Historically, the beginning of spring has gas prices starting to show an increase because of the demand,” she said.

With that not being the case this year, Podguski said lower usage will push pump prices to less expensive levels for the foreseeable future.

Writer Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at stacyw@bridgetowermedia.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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