Gasoline consumption in California in May 2008 continued its downward trend, with Californians using 4.8% less gasoline in the month than during the same period the year before, according to figures from the State Board of Equilization (BOE). Diesel consumption in May 2008 was 11.0% below that of May 2007.
Total gallons of gasoline used were 65.0 million fewer in May 2008 than in May 2007. On a month-to-month basis, Californians used 26.2 million gallons (2.1%) more gasoline than in April 2008. Historically, May shows an increase over April, in part because of the Memorial Day holiday, which traditionally is the start of the summer when people travel more and consume more fuel.
The average California gas price at the pump rose from $3.85 per gallon in April to $4.02 in May 2008, which was 15.2% above the average price of May 2007 when it was $3.49. The BOE estimates that nearly twice as much sales tax is generated annually by higher gasoline prices than five years ago. Those higher prices generated approximately $3.6 billion in sales tax during 2007 when the average price was $3.12. In contrast, 2003’s gasoline sales generated $2.1 billion when the average pump price was $1.88.
May 2008 diesel fuel sold for use on California roads totaled 225 million gallons. A month-to-month comparison shows that in May 2008 Californians used 4.9 million (2.1%) gallons less diesel than April 2008. The decreased consumption reflects both the impacts of higher diesel prices and the slowing economy, which is associated with less freight movement on California roads and highways. California diesel prices were up 58% compared to May of 2007.
The BOE monitors gallons through tax receipts paid by fuel distributors. Figures for June 2008 are scheduled to be available near the end of September.