A perfect storm is brewing this Labor Day weekend, but it is being driven by affordable gas and disposable income rather than ocean currents or atmospheric pressure differentials. With more motorists able to afford one last road trip to cap off the summer, Labor Day traffic is predicted to be heavier than it has been since 2008, and that could spell gridlock for millions of unhappy campers.
According to the 2015 Labor Day Travel Forecast produced by AAA, about 35.5 million Americans will travel during the Labor Day holiday, which lasts from Thursday, September 3, until Monday, September 7. Of that 35.5 million, about 30.4 million are expected to drive to their ultimate destination.
Although this Labor Day weekend will see more travelers on the road than any year since 2008, the projected numbers are just 1.1 percent higher than last year. While this may not seem like a large number, it’s important to note that even a 1.1 percent increase over 2014 translates to hundreds of thousands of new travelers.
As to why we’re seeing a fourth year of increased travel over the holiday weekend, Beth Mosher, a AAA Chicago spokesperson, told Business Wire that there are a number of reasons Americans are choosing to travel during Labor Day.
“A strong labor market coupled with greater job security and rising home prices have all helped to increase disposable income. Though some consumers remain cautious, these positive indicators are driving a slight increase and allowing millions of Americans to travel on one last summer getaway.”
Business Wire also reports that, while travel is expected to reach an eight-year high, it could have been much worse. When looking at historical data, fewer Americans appear inclined to travel when Labor Day falls later in the year. Since the holiday falls on September 7 this year, which is the latest it can take place, the overall number of travelers could have been much higher.
Affordable gas is the main reason that more travelers appear inclined to strike off on one last road trip despite the late holiday. According to Fox News, the national average gas price going into the Labor Day weekend is just $2.58 a gallon, which makes travel by automobile much more attractive. As reported previously by Inquisitr, this trend could result in gas costing less than $2 a gallon by the end of the year.
While affordable gas is expected to drive people into their cars, and create potential traffic jams, falling airfare prices may also lead to packed airports this Labor Day weekend. In addition to a 1.1 percent increase in road travel, AAA also estimates that we will see a 1.5 percent increase in air travel, as the average price of a plane ticket has fallen about one percent since last year.
Do you plan on traveling this Labor Day weekend? If you do, then you might want to prepare yourself for endless traffic jams and long lines at the airport.
[Photo credit: Win McNamee / Getty Images]