Pump prices declined marginally across Western Pennsylvania this week, but that’s a soothing balm compared with the bump experienced last week and the sizable jump that had been forecast well into the summer vacation season.

The average price of a gallon of unleaded self-serve dipped eight-tenths of a cent to $2.975, AAA East Central announced Monday afternoon. That followed a 6.3-cent increase to $2.983 a week ago. Fuel across the region is 11.2 cents cheaper than it was a year ago ($3.087).

One week after enduring a 5.3-cent bump, Washington saw its average drop exactly a penny from $2.983 to $2.973. That is the seventh-lowest average among 22 Western Pennsylvania cities and towns monitored by AAA. Washington’s figure has gone up 12.2 cents over the past five weeks.

For the 12th time in 13 weeks, Altoona has the cheapest fuel in the region, with an average of $2.752 – a 9.1-cent plummet from the previous week. New Castle ($2.894) ranks a distant second, 14.2 cents higher than Altoona. Brookville ($3.083) has the most expensive gas, while Erie ($3.034) is second-highest.

Pennsylvania’s average – $2.92 – is a penny lower this week. The Keystone State is part of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region, where prices varied this week, rising or falling up to five cents. Regional prices are considered to be relatively stable, though, according to data from the Energy Information Administration, which show regional refinery utilization to be a steady 69% and gasoline inventory increasing a little more than 250,000 gallons.

The national average dropped three cents per gallon to $2.76 – the first decline nationally in four weeks.

Business Writer

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won eight individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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