Cheapest gas in the nation - full service

Why New Jersey, which requires all its service stations to be full service, is also the only state in the nation with gas prices under $3 a gallon.

By Steve Hargreaves, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- With gasoline prices setting new records every day, the only state in the country where the average price for gas is still under $3 a gallon is New Jersey.

Oddly, it's one of only two states that require all its service stations to pump the gas for you.

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New Jersey boasts the cheapest gasoline in the nation; it is also one of only two states that requires full service at every pump.
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"It shows you how little cost has to do with the price of gas," said Doug MacIntyre, senior oil and gasoline analyst at the Energy Information Administration. "This is local supply and demand conditions."

While refinery outages continue to plague the Midwest - Chicago now has higher gasoline prices than notoriously pricey San Francisco - New Jersey is benefiting from its four in-state refineries, all of which appear to be running just fine.

Plus, deliveries for all futures gasoline contracts traded on NYMEX are sent to the New York Harbor gas facilities, which are actually in New Jersey. It's also the main port for gasoline imports from Europe, which account for 30 percent of the gas used in the Northeast.

Then there's the taxes. At just 14 cents a gallon, New Jersey has one of the smallest state gas taxes in the country. The national average is about 21 cents, according to gaspricewatch.com. The federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon.

In Pennsylvania, which sits just next door to New Jersey and has several refineries of its own, the average price is $3.073 a gallon, according to the motorist organization AAA. That's about 13 cents higher than New Jersey's $2.947.

The difference is clearly due to the tax. In Pennsylvania, it's 17 cents higher.

So minus the tax, New Jersey gas station owners are getting 4.5 cents more per gallon.

Is that enough to pay the person who pumps it?

If a gas station owner in New Jersey is making 4.5 cents per gallon more than his counterpart in Pennsylvania, and a worker fills up 20 cars an hour, each with a 14 gallon tank, that's about $12.60 extra per hour.

When asked if service station owners in New Jersey eat the cost of keeping the full service employees, Eric DeGesero of the New Jersey Fuel Merchants Association said "labor is a high cost of doing business."

But he said fees charged by the credit card companies are a much higher cost for his members, who make very little if any profit off the sale of gasoline. Most service station profits come from items sold in the store, like coffee or snacks.

He also said New Jersey, which like Oregon requires full service gas stations as a way of creating jobs, limiting accidents and assisting the elderly, has no plans to repeal the full service requirement.

DeGesero said the last time a bill was floated to overturn the full service law, about a year ago, it was withdrawn in just six days due to public opposition.  Top of page

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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.