Gas Prices May Be Easing, but Americans Still Need Relief

Woman using a credit card to pay at the gas station.

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Gas prices may slow down, but that does not mean consumers are not struggling.

Important points

  • High gas costs were a pain point for consumers.
  • Although prices have fallen slightly recently, Americans are still struggling to keep up.

Since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict, US gas prices have skyrocketed. And that put many Americans in a difficult position financially.

Many people drained their savings during the early stages of the pandemic. And just as they began to rebuild financially, the cost of living began to skyrocket.

Not only has inflation been booming lately, but gas prices have been sky-high for months. This in turn has led legislators to consider various forms of relief, whether in the form of a gas-specific stimulus or rebate, or a gas tax holiday at either the federal or state level.

But in early July, consumers got a little delay at the pump. After reaching the national average price of $ 5 per liter in the week of June 13, average weekly gas prices fell. And during the week of July 7, the average price of a liter dropped to $ 4.75, according to AAA.

This is clearly a big problem for those who drive regularly and who have struggled with higher costs. But unfortunately, consumers can now be trapped in a kind of limbo situation where gas prices are still much higher than usual but not high enough to justify more stimulus assistance.

Consumers still need help

Last July, families with children saw the first of six monthly child tax credit payments hit their bank accounts. This year, no such aid is on the table, as the increased credit has not been approved for 2022.

Not only is the improved child tax credit gone, but there are no plans in the works for a federal stimulus check to arrive soon. And given the state of the labor market, it’s easy to see why.

The U.S. economy added 372,000 new jobs during June, and the unemployment rate stood tight at 3.6%. This is comparable to the unemployment rate before the pandemic, and it also means that it is more difficult to justify another widespread round of stimulus assistance.

So where does that leave consumers struggling to pay for gas and other expenses? Unfortunately in a very bad place. While lower unemployment numbers are a good thing, they are not helpful to those consumers whose salaries fall dangerously short.

Help is available – but only in some states

The good news is that many states have recognized the need to distribute stimulus assistance and are making plans to send out discount checks to qualifying residents. But it is largely states with surplus funds in their budgets that can take this step. Not every state issues stimulus payments, and even within the states that are, not everyone will qualify for assistance.

Meanwhile, although gas prices may have fallen recently, they could easily rise again as summer moves on. Whether it forces lawmakers to consider additional federal aid is really at this point in question. Although higher gas costs have been a motivator for lawmakers to try to act in recent months, at this point it could develop into something consumers are only expected to deal with – even if it means incurring debt overhead. to keep.

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