Average gas price in Milwaukee drops to $3.96 after crude prices dip slightly

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- It may not feel like it, but prices at the pump dropped again slightly Thursday thanks to a drop in the price of crude oil.

The citywide average in Milwaukee of $3.96 is down one cent from Wednesday and down seven cents from last week. But prices at the pump are still high right now, and still hurting.

Driver Tyria Thomas said, "I'm not traveling at this point because the gas prices are a little high."

Thomas says because gas prices are so high, she pretty much drives to work and church and then home. She says she makes sure to stick to her budget, and she's cut out virtually all recreational trips in order to save gas and money.

Thomas said, "Before all this happened, how much did it cost you to fill up? I would say between $35-$30. And now? I would say $45, $46."

Angel Chavarria is paying a lot more. He works in construction, and says the prices are really bad for the industry. Chavarria said, "Because I have to drive a lot, I spend maybe $500 a week sometimes."

It costs Angel $140 to fill his truck's tank, which is hurting business because he's trying to not raise prices on customers even as gas costs remain high.

One independent station we saw on the north side had gas for $3.79, but that's rare right now.

Gas stations have some flexibility to set prices, but not a lot. Dr. Grace Wang, Professor of Economics at Marquette University, says the cost of crude oil accounts for about 60%-70% of the price at the pump. Other factors include refining and marketing costs, state and federal taxes, and distribution costs.

Dr. Wang said, "If a station is closer to the interstate, that gas station might have more wiggle room to have a lower price."

As the price of crude rises or falls, there may be a delay before it translates at the pump. And Dr. Wang says it's hard to say if prices have peaked. "Russia Ukraine is the key factor, but there will be some other factors, unfortunately we just can't predict them right now."

The average price statewide in Wisconsin is $3.95. Oklahoma has the cheapest state average at $3.78. California is most expensive at $5.79 per gallon.

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