How do recent gasoline prices compare with historical prices?
Two ways to compare recent gasoline prices with historical prices are by the nominal price or the real price. The price actually paid at the pump is the nominal price. The real price is the price that is adjusted to remove the effect of changes in the value of the dollar over time. Real prices usually reflect the value of the dollar relative to a base year.
The graph below shows the average annual nominal and real prices of retail regular grade gasoline from 1976 through 2019. The real prices are based on the value of the dollar in January 2020. The graph also shows the U.S. Energy Information Administration's (EIA) forecast for average annual prices for 2020 and 2021 in the January 2020 Short-Term Energy Outlook.
EIA's publications that provide historical, recent, and projected retail gasoline prices (including federal, state, and local taxes) are
- Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Update—most recent available and historical U.S. weekly (and average monthly and annual) nominal prices.
- Short-Term Energy Outlook—monthly forecasts for average monthly and annual U.S. retail regular grade gasoline prices for the current year and the next year. The Real Prices Viewer shows historical and forecasted nominal and real prices.
- Annual Energy Outlook—projections for average annual U.S. retail gasoline prices out to the year 2050 are available in Table 12. The projected prices are the average for all gasoline grades.
Last updated: January 16, 2020