$4 gas is coming to your state

Gas pricesClick above to check out gas prices in your state. By Ben Rooney, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Gas prices have been spiking for weeks and $4 gas is quickly becoming a reality across the nation.

Illinois became the latest state to succumb, with motorist group AAA reporting Tuesday that the average price for a gallon of gas in the state had hit $4.03 a gallon. On Wednesday, the average price in Illinois nudged up to $4.04 a gallon.

Gasoline prices and taxes by state
Prices at the pump can vary widely among states due to a number of factors. More

There are now four U.S. states with gas prices above what many economists consider a 'tipping point' for consumers. Prices in California, Alaska and Hawaii have been above $4 a gallon for weeks.

As of Wednesday, the national average stood at $3.81 a gallon. While that's still below the $4 mark, prices are up 24% from the start of the year.

A big culprit behind the surge has been oil. While gas prices typically start to rise at this time of year, $100 oil isn't helping.

Based on current oil prices, there is a 33% chance that the national average gas price could hit $4 a gallon in July, said the Energy Information Administration in its April short-term energy outlook.

But the EIA isn't ringing the $4 panic bell just yet, calling for gas prices to average $3.86 a gallon this summer. That would still translate into a whopping 40% rise from last summer.

Prices haven't averaged $4 a gallon nationwide since July 2008. But many economists are already predicting the national average will top that level during the peak driving months from April to August.

"Prices are most likely going to hit $4 per gallon this summer," said Chris Christopher, senior economist at IHS Global Insight.

That's bad news for consumers, who have spent the last few years paying down debt but are still hamstrung by the weak job market and falling home prices. It's also alarming because consumer spending is the main driver of economic activity in the United States, said Christopher.

"Consumers are not in a very good position right now coming out of a deep recession," he said. "We're trying to get traction here with this anemic recovery, and rising gas prices are the last thing the American consumer needs."

IHS Global recently estimated that a sustained $10 increase in oil prices, which corresponds to a 25 cent rise in gas prices, could drive consumers' energy bills $25 billion higher this year. That could have a jarring ripple effect on the job market, with IHS estimating job losses of 270,000 as businesses look for ways to cope with higher input costs, the group estimated.

All of that combined could cut U.S. economic growth by 0.4% in 2011, according to the IHS study.

"There is definitely a substantial impact to headline growth," said Sam Bullard, a senior economist at Wells Fargo.

Bullard acknowledged that the job market has shown some signs of improvement this year, and that credit is easier to obtain for many households. But he described the rise in gas prices as a tax on Americans, which has largely negated the federal payroll tax holiday enacted late last year.  To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,098.45 18.88 0.11%
Nasdaq 4,580.27 22.58 0.50%
S&P 500 2,003.37 6.63 0.33%
Treasuries 2.34 0.01 0.39%
Data as of 7:22am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.09 0.08 0.50%
Apple Inc 102.50 0.25 0.24%
Intel Corp 34.92 0.27 0.78%
Facebook Inc 74.82 0.96 1.31%
General Electric Co 25.98 -0.03 -0.12%
Data as of Aug 29

Sections

The deal would value Vice at $2.5 billion. The online media company would also create content for the cable network, delivering a wider audience. More

Gas prices are falling to nearly $3 a gallon in some parts of South Carolina, and that will soon be common in much of the country. More

Netflix told the FCC that its speed on the Comcast network became so slow that customers began dropping their service. More

The Coolest Cooler is the most successful Kickstarter campaign in the site's history, raising $13.3 million from over 62,000 backers. More

Five CNNMoney readers share stories about saving that you can learn from: What they would do differently if they had another chance. More

Market indexes 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. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.