Study: U.S. Gasoline Still a Bargain

U.S. drivers might feel like their being robbed at the gas pumps, but a gallon of gasoline may be one of the best bargains around, a recent study from an oil industry research firm found.

John S. Herold, Inc. (search) said the price of gasoline is cheaper by volume than many other household products, and the cost has not risen as quickly over the years.

"On a per-barrel basis, gasoline is America's bargain liquid: 10 percent cheaper than bottled water, a third the cost of milk, a fifth the cost of beer, and less than 2 percent the cost of a bottle of Jack Daniel's," the study said.

U.S. drivers pay on average about $2.10 a gallon, or nearly $90.00 a barrel for gasoline. The price at the pumps has roughly doubled since 1999 due to higher crude prices.

Compared with other standard expenditures, the increase in gasoline prices since 1982 is 25 percent lower than the increase in food prices, 50 percent lower than the rise in housing costs, 70 percent lower than the rise in medical costs and a whopping 80 percent below the rise in college tuition, the study found.

And while the price of a gallon of regular gasoline is near last month's record high of $2.276, it is only 5 percent higher than last year, according to the AAA. It is also below the inflation-adjusted peak of around $3 hit in the 1980s.

Also, average annual gasoline usage has been holding at about 10 gallons a week per vehicle over the past 10 years, the study said.

So a 50 cent increase in gasoline costs the average driver an extra $5 a week — about the cost of a glass of Pinot Grigio (search) or a healthy shot of Jack Daniel's.