The unofficial end of summer comes this weekend with Labor Day, that last weekend of vacations and road trips before school starts across the country and leaves begin to fall.
This year, more people plan to take to the road to celebrate the end of summer since 2008. According to AAA’s 2014 Labor Day Travel Forecast, 34.7 million folks will travel at least 50 miles from home sometime between Thursday and Monday. Eighty-six percent of them (29.7 million) will pack up the car and hit the highways. That’s a 1.3% increase over 2013.
Gas prices to stay steady for Labor Day travelers
Good news for those behind the wheel this weekend: gas prices look likely to remain steady, at an average $3.44 per gallon. Last year during Labor Day weekend, pump prices averaged $3.59 a gallon. Prices this weekend look to be the lowest since 2010.
Spending is up as income gains drag
During the third quarter of 2014, spending is projected to jump 3.8% year-over-year. However, disposable income is only expected to rise by 1.4%. Folks are making up the difference using credit cards and feeling more confident that they will be able to pay off the debt.
Other forecast highlights
More travel forecast highlights include:
Labor Day weekend doesn’t always begin in August, but when it does, people are statistically more likely to travel.
This year, spending has outpaced income growth—an indication that people may be going into debt in order to finance vacations.
2.65 million people, or almost 8% of travelers, will use air travel for their Labor Day vacation.
Airfares are 2% higher this year than last, but car rentals are holding steady at an average of $51 per day.
Rates are 9% higher this year over last at AAA Two Diamond-rated hotels. Three Diamond-rated hotels are 6% higher.
The Labor Day forecast reflects a higher number of people in the workforce this year eager to take a vacation, according to AAA Chief Operating Officer Marshall Doney. Falling unemployment rates could be contributing factors to higher numbers of vacationers.
“As the economy makes modest gains, more Americans are joining the labor force this year,” said Doney. “With Labor Day symbolizing the American workers’ contributions to the strength and prosperity of our country, it’s only fitting that millions are choosing to celebrate this positive direction with an all-American road trip.”