The average price for regular unleaded gas surged by a quarter in the past week to a record $4.86 on Monday, AAA said. That’s up 59 cents more than a month ago, and $1.81 more than a year ago.  As of Friday morning the average gas price in Billings was $4.75; Thursday’s average was $4.65.

“After a blistering week of gas prices jumping in nearly every town, city, state possible and more bad news is on the horizon,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “It now appears not if, but when, we’ll hit that psychologically critical $5 national average.” 

In Billings, according to Gasbuddy, the range is anywhere from $4.45 to $4.89. It’s an economically shocking increase.

A look at other states reveals the top 10 most expensive are: California ($6.34), Nevada ($5.49), Hawaii ($5.47), Oregon ($5.41), Washington ($5.40), Illinois ($5.40), Alaska ($5.37), Washington, D.C. ($5.06) and Michigan ($5.05).

With prices at record highs, Americans are feeling the impact at the pump immediately. Higher fuel prices are a headwind for the wider economy too, beyond just consumers having less spending money. The rising cost of fuel, especially diesel, means that anything transported on a truck, train or ship is affected. Higher prices for food and other firms of energy are steadily rising, fueling inflation.

A recent poll from ABC News found that 67% of Americans say gasoline prices are causing financial hardships.

Unfortunately, there is a good chance that the price at the pump has not yet peaked, since we are just entering the summer travel season, which is expected to be very busy this year. People who missed out on lots of vacations during the pandemic are eager to make up for lost time, and many of them will be more than likely driving instead of flying, since airfares are so high. Strong demand is likely to push gas prices at least a bit higher in coming weeks.