A look at gas prices in 2011

Here’s the chart of gas prices for Savannah, Atlanta, and the U.S. for the last 12 months from GasBuddy.com.

The relatively steep rise in gas prices in the first part of the year was a key reason (but not the main reason) for the sluggish economic growth. Transportation costs were taking an ever-bigger and highly visible chunk out of Americans’ pockets. Weakening demand contributed to the falling prices in the second half of the year (I’ve recently written about the decline in total vehicle miles travelled).

The increased price of crude more recently would seem likely to cause gas prices to rise in the coming weeks.

Instability in the Middle East or other parts of the world could impact prices in 2012, and increased demand might also boost prices. Let’s hope, though, that we avoid the kind of increase that we saw early last year.

It’s also worth noting that we’re still well below the U.S. average of just over $4/gallon registered in mid-2008, when the economy seemed on the verge of going into chaotic freefall.

Savannah Historical Gas Price Charts Provided by GasBuddy.com