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
HTML EMBED:
COPY

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

What’s the latest on the extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

As of now, those $600-a-week payments will stop at the end of July. For many, unemployment payments have been a lifeline, but one that is about to end, if nothing changes. The debate over whether or not to extend these benefits continues among lawmakers.

With a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, are restaurants and bars shutting back down?

The latest jobs report shows that 4.8 million Americans went back to work in June. More than 30% of those job gains were from bars and restaurants. But those industries are in trouble again. For example, because of the steep rise in COVID-19 cases in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, increased restrictions on restaurant capacities and closed bars. It’s created a logistical nightmare.

Which businesses got Paycheck Protection Program loans?

The numbers are in — well, at least in part. The federal government has released the names of companies that received loans of $150,000 or more through the Paycheck Protection Program.

Some of the companies people are surprised got loans include Kanye West’s fashion line, Yeezy, TGI Fridays and P.F. Chang’s. The companies you might not recognize, particularly some smaller businesses, were able to hire back staff or partially reopen thanks to the loans.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

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