Gas prices during the busy Memorial Day weekend will likely be the lowest since 2005, according to the latest projections from the American Automobile Association.
A gallon of gas now averages $2.28 compared with $2.71 at the same time last year. Still, current prices are the highest they’ve been so far this year after increasing for 12 straight days as the summer driving season approaches.
The cheaper gas this year is expected to translate into more people on the road during the three day Memorial Day weekend. More than 38 million Americans are expected to travel by car, an increase of 700,000 compared to the same period a year ago, the AAA said.
The organization expects this Memorial Day to be the second busiest on record. Nearly 34 million (89%) of holiday travelers will drive to their Memorial Day destinations, an increase of 2.1% over last year, according to AAA.
That would make it the second busiest Memorial Day weekend since 2005.
Lower gas prices combined with a strong labor market and rising personal income are motivating people to travel, AAA says. The unemployment rate is 5%, according to the latest available figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Banks are still feeling the affects of the oil plunge:
The most expensive gas in the U.S. is in California at $2.80 for a gallon, followed by Hawaii at $2.66, Washington at $2.59, Alaska at $2.58, and Nevada at $2.49. Oregon, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, Idaho, and Utah round out the top 10, according to AAA.
Although California and Hawaii are the two most expensive states in the U.S., but unlike the rest of the nation prices have remained relatively steady over the past week thanks to a surplus in gas inventories and sustained production in the region compared to levels last year.
As a result, drivers in these two states are experiencing some of the nation’s largest yearly savings for gas. For example, drivers in California are paying 97 cents less per gallon than last year.
Meanwhile, drivers in Gulf Coast states continue to have some of the nation’s cheapest gas led by Mississippi at $2.05. Six of the nation’s top 10 least expensive markets are also located nearby.
Still, prices in the Gulf Coast states have been driven up in recent weeks because of unplanned maintenance at Marathon’s Galveston Bay, Tex. plant, one of the country’s largest and most complex refineries.
The Midwest has the greatest gas price volatility due to interruptions in crude oil deliveries to refineries caused by fires in Canada, where much of the region’s oil comes from. Ohio and Michigan have seen a 13 cent increase in the price for a gallon of gas over the last week. Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio have experienced the largest monthly increases of 20 cents or more.
Prices in Midwest are expected to rise because of planned and unplanned refinery maintenance. Output at BP’s Whiting, Indiana plant and the BP-Husky plant in Toledo, Ohio are expected to be limited for the next few weeks, AAA said.