CHARLOTTE, NC - The pain at the pump is taking a bigger chunk of everyone's pay checks. It's the 32nd day is a row that prices have risen and they're expected to go even higher. Regular is averaging $3.65 a gallon in Charlotte, that's 14 cents higher than a week ago. The statewide average is up 16 cents in the past week. Drivers in South Carolina are paying about 18 cents more than last week. North Carolina has the 25th highest gas prices in the country. While some see the higher prices as a sign of a strengthening economy, there is no question, residents are feeling the pain at the pump.
South Charlotte resident Zach Looder say gas is changing his driving routine, "I was going to go home to Raleigh this last weekend and I decided not to do that because I couldn't afford the gas to put in my car."
Gas prices are hitting Charlotte hard, week after week prices are rising. AAA Carolinas Traffic Safety Foundation President, Tom Crosby, says it all comes down to supply, "The developing countries manufacturing demands are starting to increase again so that means they need oil for their manufacturing processes, and that again means there is less oil for us."
Gas prices are 2 cents higher than they were about a year ago and while that may not seem like a lot of money, UNC Charlotte Economist, John Connaughton, says each penny adds up and puts a big dent in your pocket, "It takes about 90 billion dollars annually out of consumers pockets, it's money that they don't spend on going out to eat with, they don't spend on clothes, go to the movies."
Looder says he can relate to budgeting his money, "I don't have a lot of spare money so to spend on things other than gas, groceries, bills."
Crosby says in the next two to three weeks, consumers can expect prices at the pump to go up before they come back down, "See how the weather affects prices, how the refineries reschedule their re-tooling and then again what's the expectation for the economy, those 3 things will have a big factor on prices."
Still some residents like Cathie Trosch say they are already making changes, "We actually got rid of my sons truck and bought him a smaller car because it was too expensive for him to pay for the gas."
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