The national average gas price in the U.S. surpassed $5 per gallon Thursday for the first time ever, while Wyoming's average is a bit lower at $4.68 a gallon.

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According to a release by Gasbuddy, there are several reasons for the continual rises in prices, including decreases in gas inventories due to the pandemic and accelerated demand going into the summer, the Russian war on Ukraine, and a decrease in U.S. refining capacity over the past three years.

Since the year began, several records for gas prices have been set, such as gas breaking $4 a gallon for the first time since 2008 on March 5, the price of gas peaking at $4.35 gallon on March 10, and a new record set on May 5 at $4.49 a gallon.

Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said:

"It’s been one kink after another this year, and worst of all, demand doesn’t seem to be responding to the surge in gas prices, meaning there is a high probability that prices could go even higher in the weeks ahead," De Haan said. "It’s a perfect storm of factors all aligning to create a rare environment of rapid price hikes. The situation could become even worse should there be any unexpected issues at the nation’s refineries or a major hurricane that impacts oil production or refineries this summer."

Part of the problem lies in the number of oil and gas rigs operating across the U.S., which has still not returned to levels before the pandemic started, with the number of active oil and gas rigs currently at 662 in March, compared to 791 in January 2020.

For people in Wyoming, jobs in the mining industry have increased, but are not back to pre-pandemic levels, as there were 8,200 jobs in the oil and gas industry in April, compared to 12,300 in February 2020, but higher 1,000 higher than in 2021.

The cost of living index in Wyoming however has also been higher than the U.S. as a whole, with it going from a 7.7% increase in the second quarter of 2021, compared to 5.4% across the country, up to 9.3% at the end of 2021, compared to 7% nationally.

Personal income on the other hand has been improving, going from -21.1% in the middle of 2021 for Wyoming, compared to -20.2% nationally, up to an increase of 4.6% in Wyoming at the end of 2021 and 2.4% nationally.

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