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Oil: Reports Say Prices Fall, But Tell That To Consumers

This blog post comes from CNBC energy producer Judy Gee.

Today's CPI report revealed energy prices had fallena half percent in February, which stood in contrast to the 0.7 percent gain in January. In separate data, the Energy Dept. reported that heating oil, natural gas and diesel fuel all rose last month, but retail gasoline on average fell by a penny.

Quite puzzling to say the least, because if you've filled up your tank recently, then you've probably noticed that we now have summertime gas prices here at the end of winter--but worse. We're now up to a national average of $3.28 a gallon for regular unleaded gasoline, the highest price ever recorded.

Using the AAA national average of retail gasoline, prices at the pump averaged $3.04 in January and $3.037 last month. But if you look at how much prices have spiked since the middle of February to reach the current record retail price, the CPI data doesn't seem to make much sense. Regular unleaded has soared 10 percent just in the past month.

Prices in San Diego which reached as high as $3.95 for regular and $4.25 for premium indicate the damage is already being done elsewhere. But perhaps it could be worse. Your personal "pain at the pump" depends on how much of your monthly income actually goes toward fuel expenditures. And where you live, matters a lot.

Glen Falk at The Oil Price Information Service calculates that residents in New Jersey (Hunterdon county) spend less than 2 percent of their monthly income on motor fuel, compared to less than 4 percent in Idaho (Ada county). At the high-end of the pain index, residents in Mississippi (Holmes county) spend nearly 13 percent of their income every month on gasoline alone. Across the nation, drivers are facing a tough road ahead.

Questions? Comments? energysource@cnbc.com