Thanksgiving travel numbers expected to drop slightly

This post has been updated. See the note below for details.

Because of economic uncertainty, the number of Americans traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday is expected to drop slightly compared with last year.

The annual forecast by AAA predicts 43.4 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home for the holiday, a 1.5% decrease from last year.

Still, the Auto Club noted that the travel volume would still be the second highest since the recession dropped travel numbers dramatically in 2008 and 2009.

"Economic growth remains muted, showing only marginal improvements from a year ago, while the labor market continues to struggle to maintain a meaningful pace of job creation," the study said in explaining the decline in travel volume.

Although gasoline prices nationwide have dropped about 25 cents since the same period last year, the Auto Club said it didn't expect pump prices to have a major effect on travel numbers.

About 90% of Thanksgiving travelers are venturing out by car, with another 7% traveling by airplane and the remaining 3% traveling by bus, train or boat.

The Automobile Club of Southern California expects to release its forecast for travel from the region on Friday.

[Updated, 12:40 p.m. PST Nov. 20: The travel website predicted that Los Angeles International Airport will be the busiest airport in the country on Thanksgiving weekend. Chicago O'Hare International Airport was the busiest last year but will fall to second place this year, the website said.]


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