Leaves are beginning to fall in Western Pennsylvania – along with fuel costs.

A gallon of unleaded self-serve dropped by an average of 3.2 cents across the region this week, AAA East Central reported Monday afternoon. Gasoline dipped from $2.861 last week to $2.829.

The regional average has declined 5.5 cents over the past two weeks, and is 30.7 cents cheaper than it was a year ago, when the price stood at $3.136.

Washington’s average fell marginally this week – 0.2 cents – from $2.741 to $2.739. That is the sixth-lowest among 22 Western Pennsylvania cities and towns monitored by AAA. The city’s figure has dropped 23.3 cents over the past nine weeks.

Altoona, for the 23rd time in 24 weeks, has the cheapest gasoline in the region with an average of $2.552. New Castle ($2.664) and Du Bois ($2.683) are the only other towns below $2.70. Uniontown ranks 15th at $2.897.

Mercer ($2.968) has the most expensive fuel, slightly higher than Warren ($2.959).

Pennsylvania’s average dipped two cents to $2.75 as, for the second week in a row, all states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region posted lower prices. The Keystone State’s figure, however, is 11th highest in the nation. Delaware had the largest decline in the region this week -– eight cents.

Gasoline stocks increased by 600,000 barrels this week, for a total of 64.9 million, according to the Energy Information Administration. Regional refinery use decreased by 1% to 67%. Seasonal trends – lesser demand and the changeover to winter gasoline – may lead to continued lower prices.

The national average remained at $2.65, nine cents higher than last month, but 26 cents cheaper than a year ago. Prices across the country, for the most part, have fallen or stayed steady, although they have skyrocketed along the West Coast, where supplies have tightened.

According to AAA, 51% of all stations in the U.S. are selling regular unleaded at $2.50 or less, while 77% top out at $2.75.

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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