Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of the summer driving season, and prices at the pump put a lot of commuters in a sunny disposition.

The average price of a gallon of unleaded self-serve in Western Pennsylvania dropped by 3.8 cents this week to $3.030, AAA East Central announced Tuesday afternoon. This is the third consecutive week fuel prices declined in the region, totaling 7.3 cents. This latest average is 12.2 cents lower than a year ago.

Washington’s price dipped 2.1 cents this week, from $3.066 to $3.045. Washington’s average was $2.461 Jan. 8.

The city’s price is the 14th-lowest among 22 Western Pennsylvania cities and towns monitored by AAA. Altoona, for the fifth week in a row, has the cheapest gas at $2.838. Five other towns are below $3.00: New Castle, Latrobe, DuBois, Butler and Erie.

Kittanning ($3.156) has the most expensive fuel, slightly higher than Warren ($3.139).

Pennsylvania’s average declined two cents to $2.98, but the Keystone State ranks as the 10th most-expensive state nationwide and first among Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

Gasoline stocks in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast rose a significant 3.8 million barrels, for a total of 63.7 million. That reduced the deficit from May 2018 by half. But with increasing demand, inventory will have to build for prices to drop and hold steady.

The national average dipped two cents to $2.82, with 42 states and Washington, D.C., featuring cheaper prices from a year ago. Florida’s average has dropped 31 cents from May 2018, while West Coast drivers are paying 10 cents a gallon or more than they did this time last year.

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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