PENNSAUKEN, New Jersey (WPVI) -- As gas prices are climbing, consumers are struggling.
"I'm almost 80 years old. I remember when gas was 18 cents a gallon," said Nicholas Lucona, of Camden.
The average price for a gallon of regular in South Jersey on Thursday is $4.99, teetering on the verge of $5. The average is even higher in Pennsylvania.
"I think it's insane. I think it's breaking people," said one driver in Pennsauken.
"Cost me a lot to cross the bridge every day and buy extra for gas. It's too much. It needs to come down," said Michael Shands, of West Philadelphia.
Twenty-one states now have average gas prices above $5, according to AAA. The national average has raised steadily over the last month.
"What is happening right now, is not totally unheard of, but not at this rate what we are seeing, we haven't seen the price at this rate so rapidly," said Subodha Kumar, a professor at Fox School of Business at Temple University. "Gas is not something that's a luxury good. We need it to go to work, and a lot of that demand cannot be reduced."
"But when the average prices go over $6 or so, and people just cannot pay at all, at that time we will see that people will start changing their patterns altogether," Kumar predicted, using carpooling and public transportation as examples.
As oil and gas get more expensive, Kumar believes there is a high risk of an economic slowdown.
"Everything is connected to gas prices, and we're already getting there, and there is no way I think we can avoid it," he said.
Kumar added that relief does not appear to be in the near future.
"If we trust any of this data, it is going to be sometime very late this year or early next year when we are going to see some relief," said Kumar.