Only your wallet is broken, not the record

Gas prices in Chicago on May 8, 2007.


KAI RYSSDAL: We all like to think economic reports are just that — solid numbers we can rely on to figure out what's going on and how we're going to be affected. Which is largely true, except for something we told you about Monday — that gas prices, adjusted for inflation, are the highest they've ever been.

When we said it, it was true. But yesterday, the Energy Department updated its inflation calculations. Instead of using 2006 figures, it's now using monthly numbers from this year.

They're more up to date, says Doug MacIntyre. He's a senior oil analyst with the Energy Information Administration.

DOUG MACINTYRE: The reason we did it now is simply because the price was getting close to what people were accustomed to thinking of: a peak inflation-adjusted price. And it wasn't an accurate comparison.

So what it all boils down to is this: The $3.22 a gallon national average no longer ties the inflation-adjusted record set back in 1981. We'd need to be paying $3.29 a gallon to tie the mark, which might not happen any time soon.

MacIntyre's group will be using June's inflation figures next time, so the record's kind of an upwardly-moving target.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, the most widely heard program on business and the economy in the country.


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