How Much Will You Pay for Gas This Summer?
By: Althea Chang

If you and the family are planning to hit the road for summer vacation, you’ll be happy to know you probably won’t be paying as much for gas as you did last year.

During this year’s summer driving season, which lasts from April to September, regular prices at the Exxon Mobil (Stock Quote: XOM), Chevron (Stock Quote: CVX) or other gas stations should average $2.21 per gallon, down about $1.60 from last summer, according to the Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Since gas prices are likely to be lower, the number of people choosing to drive to vacation destinations this summer is expected to increase, says Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service.

But unemployment and a shortage of summer jobs could leave young road-trippers scrounging for gas money.

“A lot of driving is attached to employment. People 16 to 22 years old are having trouble finding jobs this summer, and that mitigates some of the normal driving lift,” says Kloza, who expects a modest rise in driving later this summer compared with last year.

Although gas prices aren’t likely to top $4 a gallon like last year, they have ticked upward recently and may actually be higher than the EIA expects, says Kloza.

“I think that we always tend to underestimate the extremes,” says Kloza, who sees gas prices between $2.25 and $2.50 a gallon this driving season, adding that there’s plenty of crude oil, plenty of refining capacity and lower demand for gasoline than there was in 2006 or 2007.

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