COVID-19

Gas prices are low ahead of Memorial Day. But will people travel?

Justin Ho May 22, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Gas prices heading into the Memorial Day weekend are at their lowest levels in nearly two decades. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
COVID-19

Gas prices are low ahead of Memorial Day. But will people travel?

Justin Ho May 22, 2020
Gas prices heading into the Memorial Day weekend are at their lowest levels in nearly two decades. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Share Now on:
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Gas prices heading into the Memorial Day weekend are at their lowest levels in nearly two decades. According to AAA, the national average gas price is just above $1.90 a gallon.

But on this unofficial start to the summer holiday season, that might not be enough to get people to hit the road.

AAA usually issues a Memorial Day travel forecast around this time, but this year the company said COVID-19 undermined the data it uses to make that prediction.

“It’s not necessarily reliable, right? There’s not much going on with the economy right now to give us good indicators of what we can expect for travel and the holiday weekend,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson.

Casselano says people will still travel, but overall, travel could fall to a record low for the weekend, despite cheap gas prices.

The bright side? “We’re nearly a dollar cheaper than a year ago, and we’re not going to jump back up to the typical summer numbers anytime soon,” Casselano said of gas prices.

Traffic has started picking up, though. Patrick De Haan at the price tracking company GasBuddy says that means demand for gas is rising, too.

“It’s still down 20% from where it was prior to coronavirus, but the rebound has caused gas prices to rebound as well,” De Haan said.

He says those prices will likely keep climbing through Labor Day.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

When does the expanded COVID-19 unemployment insurance run out?

The CARES Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in March, authorized extra unemployment payments, increasing the amount of money, and broadening who qualifies. The increased unemployment benefits have an expiration date — an extra $600 per week the act authorized ends on July 31.

Which states are reopening?

Many states have started to relax the restrictions put in place in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Although social-distancing measures still hold virtually everywhere in the country, more than half of states have started to phase out stay-at-home orders and phase in business reopenings. Others, like New York, are on slower timelines.

Is it worth applying for a job right now?

It never hurts to look, but as unemployment reaches levels last seen during the Great Depression and most available jobs are in places that carry risks like the supermarket or warehouses, it isn’t a bad idea to sit tight either, if you can.

You can find answers to more questions here.

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