The Mystery at the New Jersey Gas Pump

One of the many unexplained oddities of our trip is two-fold, but both related to New Jersey’s state law which requires that a gas station attendant pump your gas for you.

First, and I’m not saying this with undue arrogance, after 19 years of driving a car, and an additional three pumping gas for my parent’s vehicle, I’m a pretty damned solid gas pumper.

Perhaps I’m not good enough to be considered a top-ranked professional, but that’s only because my experience has been mostly amateur and my training mostly in recreational and co-ed leagues in and around Ohio. So of course, I may not be familiar with the East Coast Pro circuit.

But I’m telling you. Given the opportunity, a fast connecting credit card terminal and a free flowing gas nozzle, I could provide a respectable time in the “20-gallon fill” event.

But the second item of confusion is how can Jersey’s gas stations charge a respectable price for unleaded gasoline – though inhibited by the state-mandated inefficiency that is the gas pump pro. We’ve been all over this land, and were greatly surprised that the gas prices in the Garden State were not only reasonable, but below the national average.

A check this morning at AAA placed the national average for regular unleaded gasoline at $3.402, while New Jersey came in at $3.289, nearly 4% below the average, while my home state of Ohio, which does not require stations to hire a staff of trained gas pump technicians, comes in at $3.327.

After a little research, and I’m pretty sure if these relate directly to the price advantage New Jersey seems to offer, I found these two key facts:

VOLUME DISCOUNT: New Jersey has the 8th highest consumption in the United States, with over 94 million barrels of oil (or 1.82 BILLION gallons of gas) consumed each year, which is, on average, just over 10.8 barrels or 210 gallons of gas per person.WOW!

LOW TAXES: New Jersey, surprisingly has the third lowest tax rates per gallon in the United States at 32.9 cents/gallon. Only Wyoming and Alaska’s taxes are lower. The average tax on a gallon of gas is 48.9 cents, while California charges the highest at 68.0 cents/gallon. Ugh… Can’t wait to get to California!

So, it seems, that the reduced taxes and volume offer New Jersey a distinct profitability advantage. Consider this, New Jersey’s gas station owners save 16 cents in taxes per gallon versus the average, or $291,200,000 annually. It seems that this savings gives them plenty of additional average revenue to employ this archaic, but then also progressive employment process. Very interesting.,