PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The sounds from the pump on television is usually a sign prices at the pump are on the rise.

“We put our SUV away and got a more economical car,” Carolyn Cavanaugh said.

“I can’t afford it,” said college student Kelsey Lohr. “I only put in like, 10 bucks at a time, I don’t know that helps I guess because I’m not spending all my money at once.”

Even though gas prices in New Jersey are significantly cheaper than in Pennsylvania, due to taxes, residents still want some relief.

“It ridiculous, it’s out of hand,” said one New Jersey driver.

According to AAA, the national average is $3.07 for a gallon of unleaded gas. In the Philadelphia region, it’s $3.17, that’s 3 cents higher than last week, 15 cents higher than last month, and almost 50 cents more than a year ago when we were paying $2.70.

Market speculation, a weak dollar and politics are all contributing factors affecting prices at the pump.

One local financial analyst, who’s been studying oil trends for years, says it’s the improving economy that’s playing a major role.

“The market is really reacting to the fact that finally, the economy is coming around,” said economist Joel Naroff.

Naroff believes prices could reach close to $4 this year as they did in 2008. If that happens, he says drivers will likely change their habits.

“As we approach $4, I think the lessons we’ve learned in the past is that’s a deal breaker,” said Naroff.

Many consumers may not like the direction we’re headed, but some have accepted the increasing prices and no longer see them as painful.

“It’s higher than what I’m used to paying, but I can live with it,” said Michael White.

Reported By: Jericka Duncan, CBS 3

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