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Gasoline rolls up 1,000 days at $3 a gallon

If you think you’ve been paying a lot for a gallon of gasoline, you’re right. The average price of gasoline has stayed above $3 a gallon for the past 1,000 days.

AAA Oregon/Idaho officials reported Tuesday that $3-a-gallon gasoline began on Dec. 23, 2010, and doesn’t show much sign of easing.

“AAA projects the national average will remain above $3 for at least another 1,000 days barring a major economic recession,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho. “Paying less than $3 per gallon may be automotive history for most Americans. The price may occasionally tick down below $3 a gallon in some areas, but the national average is likely to remain more costly as we head into the future.”

Oregon’s average has been above $3 a gallon for about a month longer than the national average, with the current streak beginning in November 2010. The average price of a gallon of regular in Oregon last week was $3.70, about 31 cents lower than a year ago.

The national average first surged above $3 per gallon for eight days immediately following Hurricane Katrina in September 2005. The longest previous streak above $3 per gallon was for 244 days from Feb. 17 to Oct.17, 2008.

The national average fell below $3 per gallon for 796 days from Oct. 18, 2008 to Dec. 22, 2010, due to a weak economy.

This week three states have regular unleaded at or above $4 a gallon, up from two last week. For the 31st consecutive week, there are no states below $3 a gallon. Hawaii has the most expensive gas in the country for the 48th consecutive week at $4.31, followed by California at $4.03 (up 12 cents and up from fourth last week), Alaska at $4, Connecticut at $3.90 and New York at $3.83.

Washington is sixth, up from eighth, at $3.75 (up a penny). Idaho is seventh, down from sixth, last week at $3.75 (down a penny). Oregon is 10th, up from 16th last week, at $3.70 (up a penny).

For the 22nd week in a row, South Carolina has the cheapest gas in the nation at $3.19 a gallon (down 6 cents).