Las Vegas relies heavily on tourism to keep its economy afloat.
Now that Nevada has the second highest gas prices in the country, will we see fewer visitors? How did prices rise so quickly?
“We’ve already had supply shortages due to COVID,” said John Restrepo, a Las Vegas-based economist at RCG Economics. “We’ve also had a huge spike in demand from all the stimulus.”
A third component, he said, is the West Coast, which has been reducing its refining capacity for several years. They “are all coming to play in this perfect storming situation that we’re in right now.”
He said he expected prices to go up before going down again, but a lot of things need to happen: a fix in Ukraine, supply chain corrections in America, “reducing that political, global uncertainty will help. It will take.”
Tourists will still come to Nevada, he predicted, but inflation will affect how much they spend.
Nevada needs to diversify its economy. said Restrepo. “I thought we would understand the issue of vulnerability after the Great Recession. We did it for a while and everything, you know, good times came back and we forgot that we’re the most vulnerable.
“Most [the drive behind increasing prices] is access to oil,” says AAA’s John Treanor. “We need to get fuel into Nevada, and there are a couple of refineries on the west coast and east coast, and it costs a lot of money to transport that fuel.”
He said the reality is that gas stations can set their own prices, and a lot of that is based on competition.
“We’re home to one of the biggest weekly moves in the country, we’re up 13 cents week over week and just a month ago we were at $4.02,” Treanor said.
On Monday, the national gas average was $4.24. In Nevada it was $5.25; $5.35 in Clark County and $5.22 in Washoe County. The cheapest was in Elko County at $4.60.
Peggy “hit it on the head,” Restrepo said. She called to express her concern about the environmental impact at the end of the high fuel cycle, leading to greater interest in electric vehicles and, as a result, more mining in northern Nevada. “It’s complicated,” he said.
Treanor shared fuel saving tips:
- Make sure your tires are fully inflated
- Don’t stay idle for long
- Drive the speed limit
- Try to consolidate errands into one long drive with multiple stops
But for some, it’s not just a nuisance or a pain in the wallet. Kenadie Cobbin-Richardson, a diversity consultant, said inflation and high gasoline prices are hurting lower socioeconomic communities, which are disproportionately black and Hispanic, and rural households.
She said many people in these communities have no choice but to budget large amounts of income for gas. Most minority communities are not accessible on foot or by bike, and buses are not always an option depending on the timetable.
“I think we need to…really look higher at what can actually be done. And if I really mean from a legislative point of view, we really need to counter rising inflation,” she said.
Andrew Gnatovich, known as the LV Cabbie Chronicles for his large Twitter following, has been a Las Vegas cab driver and rideshare driver for the past 15 years. He said ride-sharing drivers were in a “very difficult position”.
Several reports in recent months have cited that rideshare drivers have canceled appearances due to high fuel costs.
“Recently Uber has increased fuel by 50 cents or 45 cents, which honestly isn’t enough,” he said. “It’s going up so fast that I think drivers really need more control over how much we can charge for work, which they’re not doing at all right now.”
It’s not clear how long gas prices will keep rising, but prices are usually expected to rise in the summer.