HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- According to AAA, the national average for regular-grade gas is creeping up to $5 a gallon. It's currently at $4.97 as of Thursday. Every time the fuel price goes up, we all feel the strain on our wallets, even when it was only around $1 a gallon in the 1980s.
Now, we know the price of gas never stays the same. It's dependent on the state of our economy, the costs of crude oil, demand, and more. But what hasn't changed are the disgruntled feelings we all feel every time the prices go up. Today, we thought it'd be fun to go back a few decades to see how much things have changed or haven't changed.
Our search through the KTRK archive took us as far back as 1973, when Houstonians dealt with long gas lines that plagued the west coast during the energy crunch. The population was increasing, but resources were decreasing.
"Folks here were so relieved to find gas, they gladly paid the inflated price of more than 40 cents a gallon," reported Barbara Estep in 1979, a journalist for ABC13 at the time.
Then fast forward to 1979, when prices began hovering past $1 a gallon.
"As we enter 1980, There's talk of $2 a gallon for gasoline. Those of us who lived through the 70s remembered when we scoffed at reports of paying $1 a gallon for gasoline," said Diana Fallis in 1979, the first African American female primetime anchor in Houston.
Scoffing at $1 a gallon? Imagine how Texans back then would react if they knew gas prices would increase by five times 42 years later. Of course, you have to consider that our minimum wage and cost of living now are also much higher. Gas prices stayed consistently under $2 until 2005 -- a result of the war in Afghanistan, the Iraq War, and the energy crisis.
"It scares me right now. I'm like damn. They were talking about it being at $3. But I didn't believe it," said a man who spoke to ABC13 in 2005.
"$48, that's a lot of money," said a driver who pumped 17 gallons to fill up his tank at $2.79 a gallon at the time.
Prices continued to rise in 2006, making Houstonians rethink how they would alleviate the financial burden. An ABC13 reporter asked drivers at the time what they would do if prices went up to $4 a gallon.
"I'd probably just carpool," one man said.
"I'd probably ride a bike," said another.
While it may feel like gas prices keep going up each year, 2022 is not the first time our prices have been this high. While it's true that the gas prices we're seeing now are record-breaking in terms of dollar amounts, it's a different story if we factor in inflation rates.
According to the business and finance news site Kiplinger, the great recession in 2008 brought the national average to $4.11, which is $5.40 in today's costs. Considering how much lower the cost of living was back then, the price at the pump only deepened the financial strain for Houstonians during that time.
"When I pulled up to the pump, I noticed that it said $4.01, and that really shocked me, and I thought, 'Oh my gosh. Is it really $4 today?'" said a woman to ABC13 in 2008.
"Nobody ever dreamed of $5 fuel," exclaimed another driver.
Eventually, prices began declining again after 2012, hitting a low in 2016 and 2018, according to data from Statista. One thing's for sure -- The price of gas never stays the same, but our disgruntled feelings towards rising costs always will.
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