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ORLANDO, Fla. – This year's Labor Day weekend will see the highest volume of travelers journeying 50 miles or more from home since 2008, according to a forecast by AAA Travel that predicts 34.7 million Americans will hit the road. This marks a 1.3-percent increase over the holiday weekend in 2013.
Nearly 86 percent of travelers will celebrate the end of summer with a final road trip over the Labor Day holiday travel period, which takes place from Thursday, Aug. 28 to Monday, Sept. 1.
"As the economy makes modest gains, more Americans are joining the labor force this year," said AAA Chief Operating Officer Marshall 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."
Highlights from the 2014 Labor Day Travel Forecast include:
- Americans have historically shown a higher tendency to travel when Labor Day weekend begins in August.
- Consumer spending has surpassed income growth, which indicates Americans are willing to take on debt in order to finance a vacation.
- Automobile travel will increase 1.4 percent this year.
- Nearly 8 percent of travelers, or 2.65 million people, will travel by air, up 1 percent from last year.
- Airfares are just 2 percent higher than last year, but daily car rental costs remain consistent at $51.
- Hotel rates at AAA Two Diamond hotels are 9 percent higher than last year, while Three Diamond hotels are 6 percent more.
Consumer spending is continuing to rise in spite of stagnant income growth, according to the report. In the third quarter of 2014, spending is expected to rise 3.8 percent year-over-year while disposable income is only expected to rise 1.4 percent.
"This year, Americans are more optimistic about their financial situation," Doney added. "Consumer spending continues to outpace disposable income, indicating that Americans are comfortable using their credit cards to take one last summer vacation this year."
AAA also reported that most U.S. consumers are paying the lowest gas prices for early August since 2010, and it expects gas prices to have little impact on the number of people traveling for Labor Day. Barring a major disruptive event such as a Gulf Coast hurricane, gas prices will likely remain relatively low leading up to the holiday weekend compared to recent years. The current average price of gas is $3.44, compared to $3.59 on Labor Day last year.