Retail gasoline prices haven't plummeted yet. But they've started to fall a bit.
Meanwhile, it's pretty clear that North Carolina wholesalers and retailers have finally started passing along to consumers the full burden of the 2.5-cent gas tax increase that took effect July 1.
Triangle drivers are paying an average $3.676 for a gallon of self-service regular today, the Oil Price Information Service says. That's almost a nickel less than the average price a week ago.
But we're still pumping gas for 10 cents a gallon more than what we paid a month ago, and 99 cents more than this time last year.
Remember, I'm talking average prices here. That means you may have seen bigger changes, or smaller changes, in your neighborhood pump prices.
Industry and government forecasters say we can expect pump prices to keep falling, as this lower-priced oil moves through the system.
But for now, price trends are less consumer-friendly in North Carolina than in our neighboring states. Prices here have risen more in the past month than in neighboring states, and they've risen more since our tax hike took effect July 1. That's when the NC tax on each gallon rose from 32.5 cents to the current all-time high rate, 35 cents. Tax rates in neighboring states have not changed.
Since June 30, the last day of the old tax rate, the average price for regular has risen 18.5 cents in North Carolina. Elsewhere, the price increased by only 16.4 cents in Georgia, 16.6 cents in South Carolina and 12.6 cents in Virginia.
That wasn't the case in early July. For their own competitive reasons, wholesalers and retailers did not immediately increase their prices to reflect the extra 2.5 cents tax the state began collecting at the wholesale level. After the first week of North Carolina's tax increase, other states were seeing bigger pump price increases than we were.