Michigan gas prices how they’re hurting uber, lyft drivers gas bloating pain


Kuzniar, who also had been a soccer coach for many years, decided to go back to school in 2012 to earn a master’s degree in athletic administration. By 2014, he had graduated with the advanced degree, but even though the economy has improved he has yet to find a job in that field.

Gas analysts blame the price increases on a rally in oil prices because of long-term OPEC production cuts, the U.S. exiting the Iran nuclear deal, declining U.S. oil inventories and high demand. There may be some relief by mid-June; prices are expected to remain higher than they have been in years.

This week, regular gas hit $2.93 a gallon nationally, its highest point since November 2014, and, for the second straight week, average prices went up in every state, according to a weekly survey of 135,000 gas stations by price-tracker GasBuddy. In Michigan, the average gas price was $2.97.

"The country is headed toward $3 a gallon, and I think we’re going to hug in this area because it’s a psychological threshold," said Dan McTeague, a GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst. "A lot of people are thinking: ‘I was paying 65 cents a gallon less this time last year. Wait a minute! I just can’t budget for that!’ "

To mitigate the increased cost, Kuzniar said he has made changes to his driving habits. He tries to fill up at the lowest price gas station, which he said tends to be Speedway, and uses loyalty points. He also has stopped driving around between calls to find customers to pick up.

For many folks, the recession a decade ago led to what is often called a gig economy. Some workers — some through layoffs and others by choice — shifted from employment by big corporations and small companies to self-employment by doing gigs to make ends meet.

In addition, a report released earlier this year by Betterment, a New York investment company, found that 67% of American workers who have temp jobs are doing so for financial reasons: To pay off debt, save for big purchases and to just get by.

Within two years, more than 40% of all American workers are expected to have temporary or independent contract jobs, such as driving for Uber or Lyft, according to a study by Intuit, a Mountain View, California.-based business and financial software company.

"We were looking for a little extra income for the family — I’m married, three kids — and it was something that offered a lot of flexibility," he said. "I jumped in and did it quite a bit in 2014 and 2015. Back then, the rates were better, but the demand was lower because people were just hearing about it."

"You can have nights where you are making $40 an hour, and you can have nights when you are making $15 an hour," he said. "It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. When gas gets over $3 a gallon, you have to really account for your expenses." Ups and downs

By Memorial Day, the official start of the summer travel season, gas prices are expected to hit a $2.95-per-gallon national average, a 50-cent increase from the same day a year ago. That adds up to more than $1 billion more spent at the pump from Thursday through the holiday.

"On road trips, I’d be like: ‘I’ll drive,’ " the single mother of a 16-year old said, adding that she has had a variety of jobs in her life, in addition to teaching, including restaurant assistant manager, waitress, bartender and legal assistant. "I thought, ‘this would be great.’ "

Still she said when she started driving she made many "newbie mistakes." One of them was to drive around in her silver, 2012 Ford Escape to find busy areas, but that didn’t always result in customers and burned up a lot of gas — and her profits.

"I look at my bottom line," she said. "I keep chugging along until I hit my monetary goal for the day, and hopefully, I can do it on a tank of gas. I usually call it a day when I use up my gas for the day. Once you fill up, you have to make that back."

"I always tell people it’s like waiting tables," she said of her income. "It depends on how many people are on the floor with you and how many people come in the door. You are going to have your good days and your bad days." What happens next?

The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit think tank based in Washington D.C., published a report in 2012 that found rising gas prices "are especially harmful to lower- and moderate-income households," because it meant a larger percentage of their income went to cover transportation.

“An increase in gas prices are essentially a tax on income, and it’s regressive," said Jonathan Silberman, an Oakland University economics professor. "It impacts lower-income people, and in this case, in the gig economy, all the drivers and delivery services are impacted more than others."

Use a gas app. By comparing prices and finding the stations with the lowest prices, you can lower your fuel costs. GasBuddy and AAA also have websites and apps to help identify the closest stations with the lowest gas prices. There also are several ride-share Facebook groups in which people offer advice.

Tap promotions. Some retailers with gas stations, such as Kroger, offer rewards programs. By buying gas, you can earn points and discounts for future purchases. Others, like Meijer, have deals with credit cards so when you use the card, you can get gas at a discount at the pump. Lyft has a partnership with Shell.

Be selective. Try to focus on driving riders that have a high probability of allowing you to pick up other riders at the destination so that you are maximizing the miles you travel with a paying customer, according to the blog maximumridesharingprofits.com.

California, which saw prices hit $3.70 a gallon on Monday, topped the list of states with average prices of more than $3. Hawaii was at $3.64 a gallon, Washington at $3.39, Nevada at $3.32, Alaska at $3.31, Oregon at $3.27, Utah at $3.18, Idaho at $3.12, Connecticut at $3.11, and Pennsylvania at $3.06.