Gasoline Prices Adjusted for Inflation

Gas prices can be volatile, fluctuating from month to month. In April, the average price for a gallon of gasoline was $3.907, representing a increase of 5.4% from March’s price of $3.707.

In the 2023 calendar year, the average price of gas decreased to $3.771 per gallon from the 2022 average of $4.192 per gallon, registering a 10% decrease.

Pricing for gasoline is a major category used by U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in calculating inflation but their volatility is also why they are excluded when the agency calculates core inflation rates.

The chart above and table below shows average annual prices of gasoline and those prices based on inflation in 2022 dollars. Specifically, they offer insights into how prices at the pump have changed over the years and how those prices compare after they have been adjusted for inflation.

Inflation Adjusted Gasoline Prices (1978-2022)
Category: Gasoline (All types, Per gallon)

Year Average Gasoline Prices by Year* Average Annual CPI for Gasoline** Gas Prices Adjusted for Inflation (In 2022 Dollars)
1978 0.652 51.900 $4.37
1979 0.882 70.200 $4.37
1980 1.221 97.500 $4.36
1981 1.353 108.500 $4.34
1982 1.281 102.800 $4.33
1983 1.225 99.400 $4.28
1984 1.198 97.800 $4.26
1985 1.196 98.600 $4.22
1986 0.931 77.000 $4.20
1987 0.957 80.100 $4.16
1988 0.964 80.800 $4.15
1989 1.060 88.500 $4.17
1990 1.217 101.000 $4.19
1991 1.196 99.200 $4.19
1992 1.190 99.000 $4.18
1993 1.173 97.700 $4.17
1994 1.174 98.200 $4.16
1995 1.205 99.800 $4.20
1996 1.288 105.900 $4.23
1997 1.291 105.800 $4.24
1998 1.115 91.600 $4.23
1999 1.221 100.100 $4.24
2000 1.563 128.600 $4.23
2001 1.531 124.000 $4.29
2002 1.441 116.000 $4.32
2003 1.638 135.100 $4.22
2004 1.923 159.700 $4.19
2005 2.338 194.700 $4.18
2006 2.635 219.900 $4.17
2007 2.849 237.959 $4.16
2008 3.317 277.457 $4.16
2009 2.401 201.555 $4.14
2010 2.836 238.594 $4.13
2011 3.577 301.694 $4.12
2012 3.695 311.470 $4.13
2013 3.584 302.577 $4.12
2014 3.425 290.889 $4.09
2015 2.510 212.007 $4.12
2016 2.204 187.602 $4.08
2017 2.469 211.770 $4.05
2018 2.794 240.599 $4.04
2019 2.698 232.003 $4.04
2020 2.242 194.130 $4.02
2021 3.133 264.017 $4.13
2022 4.192 347.747 $4.19

*Data Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: 12-Month Average Gasoline, all types, per gallon/3.785 liters in U.S. city average, average price, not seasonally adjusted. CPI Average Price Data.

**Data Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: 12-Month Average Gasoline (all types) in U.S. city average, all urban consumers, not seasonally adjusted. CPI-All Urban Consumers.

***According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the gasoline (all types) index is composed of three grades of gasoline:

  • Regular unleaded gasoline: Gasoline having an octane rating greater than or equal to 85 and less than 88.
  • Midgrade unleaded gasoline: Gasoline having an octane rating greater than or equal to 88 and less than or equal to 90.
  • Premium unleaded gasoline: Gasoline having an octane rating greater than 90.

How to Adjust Gasoline Prices for Inflation

In calculating gasoline prices to adjust for inflation, we’ll use an example that shows how to adjust them from 1978 to 2022. First, consider these facts which are shown in the table above:

  • The average price for gasoline in 1978 was $0.652 per gallon.
  • The annual average CPI for Gasoline (all types) in 1978 was 51.900.
  • The annual average CPI for Gasoline (all types) in 2022 was 347.747.

The following formula shows how to adjust gasoline for inflation:

1978 Gas Price x (2022 CPI for Gas / 1978 CPI for Gas) = Adjusted Gas Price in 2022 Dollars

Using the actual numbers:

$0.652 x (347.747/51.900) = $4.37