What a way to start a weekend - with lower gas prices.

The average for a gallon of regular no-lead was down 2 cents overnight, to $1.92, in the five-county Philadelphia area.

South Jersey's average was down 1 cent, to $1.66, while the national average was down 3 cents, to $1.77.

The economy is a mess, layoff numbers are horrible, but . . . you were paying an average of $4.16 a gallon in the Philly region starting June 20. South Jersey's high for the year was $4 (reached June 15). The national average was $4.11 as of July 6.

Meanwhile, oil prices plummeted today as the already battered market reacted to unexpectedly high U.S. unemployment figures - the latest dramatic evidence of recession in the world's largest market for crude.

With cold weather settling in parts of the United States and the rest of the Northern hemisphere, this time of year is normally bullish for the market. But the weak U.S. jobs report added to the gloom spread by other dire economic data to counteract the usual trend for increased winter demand.

Light, sweet crude for January delivery was down $1.43 at $42.24 a barrel - nearly a four-year low - in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by afternoon in Europe after going as low as $42.05 on release of the jobs statistics. The contract fell $3.12 overnight to settle at $43.67, the lowest since January 2005.