Gas Prices Reach 6-Year High Amid Shortages

A Georgia gas station sign / Getty Images
May 11, 2021

The national average gas price hit a six-year high Tuesday amid shortages across the Southeast.

The national average jumped up to $2.985, the highest price since November 2014, when it was $2.99, according to the American Automobile Association. Gas stations across the South are reporting they have no gasoline, including 7 percent of stations in Virginia and 5 percent of stations in North Carolina.

AAA forecasts that prices will continue to increase this week after Colonial Pipeline, which provides 45 percent of the East Coast's fuel supply, shut down operations Friday following a ransomware attack.

Gas prices have climbed nationwide since the beginning of the year, when the average was $2.249, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Some experts say the Biden administration's energy policies, including banning new gas and oil leases on federal lands and blocking the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, are contributing to higher fuel prices.

The White House said Monday that it is "monitoring" the fuel shortages.

Shortages in other commodities, including lumber, aluminum, and steel, have led to elevated prices for those goods, raising concerns about inflation as President Joe Biden pushes for trillions of dollars in government spending.

Soaring commodity prices are the latest sign of weakness for the U.S. economy after the Labor Department reported Friday that the unemployment rate rose to 6.1 percent in April. Businesses are struggling to hire workers after the Biden-backed $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill extended unemployment benefits that "pay more than most minimum-wage jobs," according to Reuters.

In response to the jobs report, Biden on Monday said his "economic plan is working" and that the unemployment numbers underscore the need for his $2 trillion American Jobs Plan.