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Liam Denning

$3-a-Gallon Gasoline Isn’t as Painful as It Used to Be

Fuel efficiency and higher wages mean that drivers don’t need to work as many hours to fill up their tanks.

Those 3s scare people.

Those 3s scare people.

Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Given oil’s sharp drop, gasoline prices should soon fall somewhat. In any case, this most recent bout of pain at the pump was never really very painful to begin with.

Any price per gallon beginning with a “3” tends to provoke panic. But on a number of relative measures, recent gasoline prices don’t look particularly high. In this chart they are adjusted for inflation, for example. Yes, they’re a lot higher than last year. But that’s no surprise.