Americans Ready to Start Engines for Memorial Day Travel

U.S. travel over the May 25 Memorial Day weekend is poised to reach a 10-year high as Americans with more money in their pockets are lured onto the roads by lower prices at the pump.

About 37.2 million Americans will travel more than 49 miles (79 kilometers) from May 21 to May 25, a 4.7 percent increase from last year’s holiday and the second-highest level in AAA data. Trip-takers totaled a record 44 million in 2005, the Heathrow, Florida-based motoring club said Friday. About nine in 10 people are expected to drive.

Retail gasoline prices are below year-earlier levels by more than $1 a gallon, dragged down by oil prices that collapsed amid a global glut of crude. That’ll translate into $700 in savings for the typical American household this year, based on U.S. government forecasts. Relief at the pumps and falling unemployment will combine to boost holiday travel spending, AAA said.

“The U.S. economy will bounce back and accelerate in the second quarter,” AAA said. “The rebound will be driven by stronger consumer spending. This boom in consumer spending will be the main driver behind the substantial increase in Memorial Day travel.”

Air travel is forecast to rise by 2.5 percent from 2014 to 2.6 million passengers.

U.S. regular gasoline at the pump averaged $2.659 a gallon on Thursday, $1.006 below a year ago, data compiled by the motoring group show. Prices slid 39 percent in the second half of 2014.

Employers added 223,000 workers to payrolls in April, Labor Department data showed Friday. The unemployment rate fell to 5.4 percent, the lowest since May 2008, from 5.5 percent.

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