Just in time for vacations, analysts say gas prices in Florida will continue to drop this summer.
Prices have already fallen Tuesday as low as $3.23 a gallon in Miami-Dade, $3.26 in Broward and $3.27 in Palm Beach County after jumping above $4 earlier this year.
The unexpected drop is because of a global drop in demand for gas, particularly in debt-ridden Europe, said Chris McCarty, director of the University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research.
"This is the second year in a row where we have experienced an unusual pattern: rising prices through the spring with a drop during the summer," McCarty said. "Usually the reverse is true with gas prices peaking sometime in July."
The plummeting prices at the pump is encouraging more tourists to plan Florida trips, he said. That is helping both the state and local economy add new jobs, McCarty added. "The employment release for Florida on Friday revealed that leisure and hospitality were once again the main contributors to employment growth," he said.
Florida's average gas price is at $3.32, according to Monday's AAA weekly fuel report -- 18 cents cheaper than the U.S. average. The Sunshine State's average price was slightly higher a year ago at $3.36 a gallon, AAA reported.
"Although a sense of optimism kept oil prices from falling last week, retail gasoline prices continue to retreat week after week," according to AAA's weekly analysis. "Signs continue to point to lower prices at the pump in the coming weeks after U.S. manufacturing and consumer sentiment fell more than forecast."
UF's McCarty said South Floridians should enjoy the cheaper prices while they can.
"Ultimately, they will go back up again, and by a lot," McCarty predicted.
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