AAA expects Labor Day holiday travel to reach a new post-recession high with 34.7 million Americans, including 1.44 million Ohioans, traveling at least 50 miles from home during the holiday weekend. This is an increase of 1.3 percent nationwide and 0.5 percent for Ohio from Labor Day 2013.
AAA Ohio's Kimberly Schwind says consumer spending continues to rise in spite of stagnant income growth. While economic growth remains slow, consumers are feeling more comfortable taking on debt. As with Memorial Day this year, more consumers are relying on their credit cards to pay for their Labor Day trip.
"People aren't making more money, but they're willing to spend more money," Schwind said.
This year, Labor Day falls on September 1, which may also be helping to offset the weak overall economic picture. Historical data shows that when the long holiday weekend starts in August, more people tend to travel.
Almost nine in ten travelers will drive to their destinations. That means 29.7 million Americans and 1.29 million Ohioans will be on the road.
"Gas prices have been going down here in Ohio. Even if they do spike, we really don't expect gas prices to play a significant role on the number of people traveling this Labor Day," she said.
AAA expects 2.65 million Americans, including more than 55,000 Ohioans, to travel by air this holiday. This is a 1 percent increase nationally and 1.6 percent increase in Ohio and marks the third consecutive year that air travel has increased for Labor Day.
"However, the growth in air travel has kind of slowed down over the past few years, and we believe this is because the overall economic growth has also slowed down," Schwind said.
Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruise, train, and buses, is expected to increase by 0.5 percent to 2.3 million travelers nationally, and by 0.2 percent in Ohio with nearly 102,000 travelers.
Labor Day weekend hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to be about 6 percent higher than last year at $171 per night. Rates at AAA Two Diamond hotels are expected to be about 9 percent higher at an average of $125 per night. The average lowest round trip air fare is expected to increase 2 percent to $219, while the daily rates for rental cars should remain stagnant at $51.