Lehigh Valley's highways and roads are going to be very crowded this Labor Day weekend.
AAA has projected that travel will be up 2.9 percent over the Labor Day holiday weekend from last year with the highest volume of motorists on record since 2008.
AAA Travel projects 33 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home over the weekend, topping 32.1 million people who traveled last year.
The total number of 2012 Labor Day holiday travelers is expected to reach a new post-recession high and is the third increase in holiday travel this year, according to the AAA/IHS Global Insight 2012 Labor Day Holiday Travel Forecast.
AAA’s Memorial Day and Independence Day holiday travel forecasts projected increases of 1.2 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively.
Despite a sluggish economy and recent rises in gas prices, the increase in expected Labor Day holiday weekend travelers is driven by improving consumer confidence compared to one year ago and Americans’ unwavering desire to travel.
The Labor Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, Aug. 30 to Monday, Sept. 3.
“In the absence of strong economic growth that might fuel a significant boost in travel volume, it is an encouraging sign that Americans continue to prioritize travel,” said Bill Sutherland, vice president, AAA Travel Services. “Travel is still within America’s discretionary spending budget.”
The health of the travel industry is dependent upon discretionary spending and growth in travel has a positive effect on employment and the overall economy.
In the first quarter of 2012, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported that 7.6 million jobs are supported by the travel and tourism industry. The jobs total consists of 5.4 million (71 percent) direct tourism jobs and 2.2 million (29 percent) indirect tourism-related jobs.