MISSOULA - Record-breaking fuel prices have stressed many sectors of the American economy.
As President Joe Biden announced a ban on importing Russian oil Tuesday, the price of a gallon of gas averaged $3.86 in Montana.
That price left trucking company operator Tim England making personal sacrifices to pay his employees.
"Every time fuel goes up, I can't increase my rate," England said. "I can't keep that pattern. There are times that it is straight out of my pocket."
Tim England has operated TeCe trucking for 29 years, delivering fuel to gas stations throughout the Northern Rockies.
He said when prices surge, his profit margins narrow. England said the fuel costs of delivering products are 30-50 percent higher than last year.
On Tuesday, the Montana average price of diesel was $4.29 per gallon. That sticker shock means a big problem for England.
"It's not as profitable today as it was yesterday with the fuel prices," England said. "Every day the fuel is going up and so every day we're going backward."
England was preparing to deliver fuel to Hamilton Tuesday and he guessed he would burn $300 in diesel just getting the truck into town.
"Everyone is going to feel it," England said. "I don't know what the travel is going to be this summer, but I'm sure they are not going to travel as much as they did in the previous year."
Gas prices have risen for months.
The two main factors are global demand surging from pandemic slowdowns and a slow return to production.
TeCe Trucking remained profitable through the steep price hikes of 2008, and England said his plan is to just hold on.
"I'm a survivor," England said. "I'll survive this one as well."