File photo: WRN

File photo: WRN

If your Labor Day weekend includes travel plans, expect plenty of company on the roads. Projections released by the AAA auto club show an estimated 35 million Americans are expected to travel at least 50 miles from home during the upcoming holiday weekend, which runs from Thursday through Monday, September 1. In Wisconsin, about 731,000 residents are expected to take a trip.

AAA-Wisconsin spokesman Nick Jarmusz says figures for the state are up about 1.5 percent over last year, and at their highest level since before the recession started in 2008. While the economic recovery is ongoing, he says the increase is largely due to the fact that many consumers are just more confident in their spending. Many people are also just ready to start traveling again, “even if it means taking on a little bit of debt.”

Lower gas prices are also playing a role. Jarmusz says pump prices have been on a consistent decline since the beginning of the summer, due largely to a lack of any major problems with refineries or supply lines during the busy driving season. Even the ongoing violence in Iraq has not had much of an impact on prices, since the fighting is not contained in any areas with heavy oil production.

According to AAA’s fuel gauge report, the current statewide average for regular unleaded fuel is about $3.44 a gallon. Heading into the Labor Day weekend last year, pump prices were up around $3.52 a gallon.

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