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President Joe Biden speaks at Onondaga Community College on Oct. 27, 2022, in Syracuse, N.Y. (AP) President Joe Biden speaks at Onondaga Community College on Oct. 27, 2022, in Syracuse, N.Y. (AP)

President Joe Biden speaks at Onondaga Community College on Oct. 27, 2022, in Syracuse, N.Y. (AP)

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson October 28, 2022

Gas prices hit $5 a gallon more than a year after Joe Biden took office, not when he was inaugurated

If Your Time is short

• When Biden was inaugurated in January 2021, the nationwide average price of gasoline was about $2.46 per gallon. Gasoline prices did exceed $5, but that peak came more than a year later in June 2022. 

High gasoline prices have been a political challenge for President Joe Biden and Democrats in this midterm election year. During an Oct. 27 visit to Syracuse, New York, Biden flubbed a statistic on gas prices, prompting a swarm of criticism among political commentators and on social media.

"Today, the most common price of gas in America is $3.39, down from over $5 when I took office," Biden said in remarks about microchip manufacturing in Syracuse.

Biden was in the ballpark about the most common gas price when he was making his remarks. But the national average gas price hit $5 under Biden this past summer, and prices were not at that level when Biden was inaugurated in January 2021.

Gas prices rose during Biden’s presidency, mainly because of increased demand as the economy recovered from disruptions wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine also caused havoc in the oil markets. Russia is a major world oil producer and many Western nations tried to wean themselves from Russian oil in protest of the war.

 

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the monthly peak for gasoline prices in the U.S. came in June. That’s when the average nationwide price hit $5.03, crossing the $5 level for the first time in history. In the second week of that month, the weekly price peaked at $5.11. (These prices are not adjusted for inflation.)

Since then, prices have fallen, something Biden has been eager to tout. The most recent weekly price for October is $3.89, representing a decline of about $1.22, or 23%, in about four months.

Even after this decline, gas prices remain well above where they were when Biden took office. The week he was inaugurated, the average price stood at $2.46, because of the impact the pandemic was having on the economy at a time when vaccines were just being rolled out. So gas is about 58% more expensive now than it was in January 2021, even after the past four months of declining prices.

The White House pointed PolitiFact to other recent examples of Biden getting the rise and fall of gas prices right.

On Oct. 26, for instance, Biden said during a virtual fundraiser that gas is "going to be down … $1.35 since this summer." And at another point in the same Syracuse speech, he said, "We’re down $1.25 since the peak this summer."

Our ruling

Biden said the price of gas is "down from over $5 when I took office."

The national average gasoline price did exceed $5, but that peak came this past June, and prices were not at that level when Biden was inaugurated in January 2021. When he was inaugurated, the price was about $2.46. 

We rate the statement False.

RELATED: Gasoline prices: Where they stand now, and why

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Gas prices hit $5 a gallon more than a year after Joe Biden took office, not when he was inaugurated

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