In the first half of August 2020, the price at the pump for a gallon of regular gasoline was the same in New Jersey as the average across the rest of the United States, $2.17.

As of Tuesday, that amount had jumped more than a buck, to $3.20 on average according to AAA, now notching two cents higher than the national rate.

Although we are much more active this year than last, Delta variant or not, AAA Mid-Atlantic public & government affairs manager Tracy Noble said the bounceback in activity as COVID-19 evolves isn't really helping drivers out.

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"Demand increased during the summer of 2021, whereas it simply dropped off in the summer of 2020, so a lot of factors playing in," Noble said.

New Jersey actually is the cheapest of its immediate neighbors, on average: New York clocks in at $3.22 per gallon right now, and Pennsylvania is at $3.28.

So instead of crossing state lines as motorists often do in times like these, Noble suggests trying to pay in cash, considering a station membership card, or shopping around on your commute.

"You really just need to do your homework, and then you also need to make sure you know the proper type of fuel that your vehicle calls for," she said.

Speaking of commutes, those may increase further for the rest of 2021 as employers try to bring workers back to offices in person, which could push demand even higher.

But the timing might be advantageous in that regard, Noble said.

"As we come into the fall months and temperatures start to drop, that's typically when we see prices drop, because there is that switch over to the winter blend fuels," she said.

The price of crude oil has fallen in the past week, which could be a leading indicator of where consumer gas prices will be going next.

Noble cautions that that is not always the case, and the specter of increased hurricane activity in the Atlantic lingers.

"As the summer comes to an end and then we enter into a more heavy hurricane season, you never know what you are going to get," Noble said.

Within New Jersey, the cheapest spot for gas is currently Burlington County, at $3.14 per gallon. The most expensive: Cape May County, at $3.30.

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