Gasoline prices are up but so is consumer confidence and the industry experts are predicting a boost in Labor Day weekend travel compared to last year. Rose White, at AAA-Iowa, says it’s the last big travel holiday of the summer driving season and the highways will be busy.
“Across the country, we expect about 33-million people will be taking to the roadways which is up 2.9% from last year,” White says. “Of those traveling, 28.2-million will travel by car, clearly the majority, with 85% of those traveling by roadway. Another 2.5-million will travel by air and 2.3-million by other modes, including cruise ship, bus and rail.”
She says this number of travelers is expected to reach a new post-recession high and is the third increase in holiday travel this year. White says higher gas prices aren’t going to keep people home for Labor Day.
“Fuel prices are up across the country about 24-cents a gallon during the last month alone,” White says. “Compared to last year, they’re up about 14-cents. That’s basically caused by refinery and pipeline issues. Just here in the upper Midwest, we’ve had three refinery issues and two pipeline issues that have impacted prices in Iowa and Nebraska.”
The average price for a gallon of self-service unleaded gas in Iowa is $3.67. That’s 16-cents a gallon higher than a year ago and four-cents cheaper than the current national average. “There has been some discussion in Washington about the possible release of strategic petroleum reserves to help drive down prices,” White says.
“We expect that will -not- happen because we do anticipate prices will start to fall once we pass the Labor Day holiday.” A Triple-A survey of intended travelers found most of them will be taking trips of between 100 and 400 round-trip miles. Median spending is expected to be $749, an increase over $702 projected a year ago.