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Gas edging to $3 a gallon at 17-month high

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File photo Photo Credit: AP, 2007

Gasoline pump prices lingered at a 17-month high on Monday after a steady climb in recent weeks.

Nationwide average retail prices remained flat at $2.82 per gallon, the highest level since October 2008. Prices are up 18.6 cents in the past month, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service.

The private gas statistics came ahead of the government figure, expected later Monday.

Many experts and the government's Energy Information Administration think average gasoline prices will hit $3 or more this spring or summer before easing later in the year. More expensive blends to cut pollution in the warmer months and more drivers on the road should keep pump prices up.

The price rise comes as the economy continues its slow recovery from the Great Recession and deals with stubbornly high unemployment.

At $3 per gallon, a typical motorist using 50 gallons of gasoline a month will spend $150 on fuel. A year ago, prices were at $2 a gallon.

Higher gas prices hit drivers in some states harder than others.

A study released this month by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that drivers in Mississippi, Montana, Louisiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina spent the largest part of their incomes on gasoline last year. At the other end of the spectrum, the report found that drivers in Connecticut spent the least on gas in 2009 - 2.5 percent of their income, or $1,391 - followed by New York, Massachusetts, Maryland and New Hampshire.

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