Despite High Gas Prices, Plenty Of Americans Hitting The Highways & Byways This Labor Day Weekend

Rising gas prices be darned, it’s Labor Day weekend and that means travelers are getting ready to hit the roads, rails and airways of our fair country in one last attempt to savor the summer.  The Automobile Association of America says about 33 million Americans are preparing to venture 50 miles or more from home this weekend, which is a 2.9% increase from last year.

That predicted number could dip, however, as those traveling on the highways and byways might be slightly dismayed by high gas prices around the country. The national average price for regular unleaded gas rose on Wednesday by more than 2 cents a gallon to $3.83, the AAA says, perhaps partly due to Hurricane Isaac causing oil rigs and refineries to shut down on the Gulf Coast.

“People who were thinking of taking a number of day trips over Labor Day may think twice,” AAA Southern New England spokeswoman Mary Maguire told the Boston Globe.

Other problems causing pain at the pump recently include tensions between Iran and Israel, affecting the price of crude oil, as well as the drought that’s hit almost two-thirds of our country. Corn is used to make ethanol that is blended into gasoline, so as the price of corn rises, so do gas prices.

Everything should settle down as the summer wanes, notes one economist, as we’ll be traveling less and fuel suppliers start using a cheaper winter blend. But if Hurricane Isaac wreaks more havoc or trouble stirs up in the Middle East, we could be facing more unhappy moments at the gas pump.

“This is is the last thing we need [because] the economy is a lot weaker than it was at the beginning of the year,” he said. “So everyone just has to cross their fingers and hope that everything settles.”

If only crossing one’s fingers could truly solve any problem, I’d have pretty much a carefree existence. If only. Safe travels, everyone.

Gas prices at record levels for Labor Day weekend [Boston Globe]