California Residents Furious as Gas Prices Jump to More Than $7 Per Gallon

By: Lauren | Published: May 03, 2024

The cost of being an American is unquestionably higher than it’s ever been before. From mortgage rates to rent, insurance, phone bills, to fast food, everything is more expensive than it used to be, including gas.

Gas prices have always fluctuated with the national and global economy. However, the cost per gallon has significantly increased in the past decade. Now, at some California stations, a gallon of gas sets Americans back $7.25, and people are furious.

The History of Gas Prices in America

Over the past century, gas prices in the USA have technically increased. However, when taking inflation into account, they’ve actually stayed quite stable.

Photograph of a Texaco gas station from the 1970s

Source: iStock

In 1970, a gallon cost $0.36 but that’s equal to $2.70 today. In 2000, gas was $1.51 or $2.55 in today’s economy. But in 2011, the price jumped to $3.64, which is $4.54 today.

Gas Has Made It Past $5 for the First Time in History

In 2022, a gallon of gas in some states surpassed the $5 mark for the first time in history. Over the past two years, it receded to the high but manageable amount of $3 or $4, but now, it seems $5 gas is back in several states.

Photograph of a sign at a Chevron gas station displaying the prices

Source: Reddit

However, that’s not even the bad news. The USA has once again broken its own record high for gasoline as several stations in California are charging more than $7 a gallon.

A Viral X Post Brought the Country’s Attention to California Gas Prices

Scott Budman, a California X (formerly Twitter) user, posted a photograph on April 21, 2024, of the gas prices at his local station in Menlo Park.

Photograph of a Chevron gas station in California with gas prices

Source: @scottbudman/X

Budman captioned the photo: “One gallon of gas (Menlo Park) above the federal hourly minimum wage” and, as with all social media debates, the comments section erupted in debate.

What Is the Minimum Wage in the US?

It’s important to note that while many states have raised their internal minimum wage over the years, it remains at $7.25 per hour for the federal government. So, technically, Budman’s caption is accurate.

Photograph of a $5 bill, two $1 bills, and a quarter, representing the minimum wage

Source: iStock

However, many people noted that in Menlo Park, California, the minimum wage is $16, so residents there actually get two gallons of gas per hour worked, not just one.

Many Users Reported That’s Not Really the Point

Even though the minimum wage is significantly more in California than in many other states, several X users noted that isn’t really Budman’s point.

Protesters holding a neon pink sign that reads “Raise the Minimum Wage”

Source: Adobe Stock

The fact that one gallon of gas can and does cost more than the minimum federal wage is truly a crime against the American people, specially the millions who work for minimum wage and can no longer make ends meet.


Others Commented on the Fact That Menlo Park Is Exceptionally Expensive

Other comments noted that Budman really shouldn’t be complaining about high prices, as he lives in one of the most expensive cities in the country, Menlo Park.

Photograph of Menlo Park, California, superimposed with the text “City of Menlo Park”

Source: @CityofMenloPark/YouTube

With an average home price of $2.3 million and an average rent of $3.813, it costs 159% more to live in Menlo Park compared to the national average.


Many X Users Defended Budman’s Post

However, even though there were comments calling out Budman and his cost of living, the vast majority of X users defended the California resident.

A man prepares to pump gas at a station

Source: Freepik

These users argued that, no matter where someone lives, this cost is simply egregious. One person wrote, “You’re HAPPY (hence defending this) to pay $6/gallon vs $3.50 (was already too high a few years ago)?”


Is Biden to Blame for High Gas Prices?

Other than complaining about the rising gas prices in California and around the country, the next logical question everyone is asking is: Is Biden to blame? Most financial experts agree that it’s not the president’s fault, at least not entirely.

US President Joe Biden speaks during a video interview

Source: @JoeBiden/YouTube

Gas prices are surging all over the world thanks to wars, conflict, inflation, and various other complex factors. While presidents can try their best to combat increasing prices, at some point, there’s nothing they or anyone else can do.


Governor Gavin Newsom Plans to Raise Gas Prices

Even though government officials struggle to decrease rising gas prices, they do have the power to increase them. And shockingly, California Governor Gavin Newsom apparently plans to do exactly that.

California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks to an audience

Source: @ABC7News/YouTube

Right now, while gas costs more than $5 across the state and $7 in some cities, Newsom is proposing an overhaul of fuel regulations that could potentially tack on an additional $0.47 to every gallon sold in the Golden State.


Many Americans May Turn Their Back on Gas-Powered Cars

If Newsom’s plan goes through, or even if it doesn’t, many Americans may make the decision to abandon their gas-powered vehicles and go electric.

A promotional photograph of a Tesla EV in front of several charging stations

Source: Adobe Stock

Electric vehicles come with their own set of costs, but as companies like Tesla have been finding ways to lower the price of their vehicles, EVs are sounding more affordable and more attractive by the day.


Residents in California Can No Longer Afford to Live There

The increasing cost of gas in California is really just the tip of the iceberg. Forbes reported that California is the third most expensive state in the country, and with several new legislations from Gov. Newsom, they may make it to the number one spot within this decade.

Aerial view of a wealthy neighborhood on the Pacific Coast of California

Source: Freepik

So while Americans will certainly continue to take to social media to complain about $7 or even $5 gallons of gas, the problem is really much bigger than that. Soon, no one will be able to afford to live in America, let alone California.