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Increased gas prices not expected to affect Labor Day travel

Although gas prices have increased over the past month, AAA-Mid Atlantic says it doesn't expect prices to affect Labor Day travel.

Although gas prices have increased over the past month, travel organization AAA-Mid Atlantic says it doesn't expect prices to affect Labor Day travel.

Across the nation, gas costs about $2.22 per gallon on average, 2 cents higher than the previous week. In Maryland, gas prices were about $2.23 on average as of Sept. 1, an increase from the $2.19 price last week, according to a news release from AAA-Mid Atlantic.

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Although prices are increasing in the nation and Maryland, AAA says the prices are the lowest around Labor Day since 2004, said Ragina Cooper Averella, AAA's public and government affairs manager.

"While gas prices have been on the uptick these past few weeks … they are much lower than previous years," she said.

AAA projects that there will be an increased amount of people traveling for Labor Day, according to a news release.

This year, AAA did not conduct a travel forecast for Labor Day, noting that it's the least traveled of the summer holidays — Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. Over the past two years, about 732,000 Maryland residents traveled on Labor Day, Christine Delise, AAA's senior public affairs specialist, said in an email.

Although gas prices have risen recently, Cooper Averella said she expects prices to drop again.

The $2.23 average gas price in Maryland is 17 cents lower than Labor Day 2015, according to AAA.

Hermine could impact Labor Day weekend in Maryland. (WJZ)

Labor Day gas prices are also 10 cents cheaper than prices around Memorial Day and 4 cents lower than prices for the July Fourth weekend, Delise said in an email.

Unfortunately for those getting gas in Westminster, the average gas price as of Sept. 1 is about the same as it was in 2015, Delise said in an email.

The average price in Westminster is $2.24, a 6-cent jump from the previous week and a 22-cent increase from the previous month, she said in an email.

Gas prices around Westminster on Wednesday ranged from $2.19 at the Hess gas station by Gorsuch Road to $2.24 at the Giant gas station off Center Street.

For Westminster resident Mike Byrd, who is in the vanpool business, the increasing gas prices have not worried him.

Mike Byrd pumps gas in Westminster on August 31, 2016.
Mike Byrd pumps gas in Westminster on August 31, 2016. (KEN KOONS/STAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

"Right now I don't have to worry about it, but if it ever got up to $3 again, I'd have to start worrying," Byrd said.

Byrd said he fills up with about 24 gallons every four days. He accounts for how much he'll spend on gas when deciding how much he charges customers. Right now, gas prices fit in his budget, but if they continue to rise, he might have to re-evaluate, he said.

Howard County resident Danyelle Felton also has to account for how much she pays for gas, which accounts for a decent portion of her budget, she said.

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"It is, definitely. It is a large part. I think I budget out $80 a month, give or take," Felton said.

Danyelle Felton pumps gas in Westminster on August 31, 2016.
Danyelle Felton pumps gas in Westminster on August 31, 2016. (KEN KOONS/STAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

She said the $2.19 price she paid at Hess on Wednesday wasn't worrying her, but that would change if prices climbed up to $2.60.

"I've heard that they're going to get higher. And with the holiday season right around the corner, I'm worried things are going to get higher," she said.

Lori Hayman, of Westminster, also said she notices prices seem to increase around holidays.

"I've noticed them [prices] creeping up, but I always notice that around the Labor Day holiday," Hayman said.

AAA's Cooper Averella said prices do not rise just because of holidays like Labor Day. Increases in gas prices rely heavily on the changes in crude oil prices, and those prices are affected by various factors, including tropical storms, geo-political conflicts and refinery issues, she said.

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