AAA: Idaho Labor Day drivers to see lowest pump prices since 2004

Posted at 9:59 AM, Aug 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-30 11:59:38-04

Idaho’s lowest Labor Day holiday pump prices since 2004 are not expected to generate appreciably greater crowds than a year ago, but they should give motorists something to cheer about during summer’s last hurrah, says AAA Idaho director Dave Carlson.

“At $2.46 a gallon, Idahoans are paying the lowest average Labor Day average pump price going back to 2004,” he said. “Labor Day traditionally delivers fewer travelers than the other summer holidays, in part, because children are in the process of returning to school.”

“This holiday historically delivers about the same number of travelers each year,” he added. Historical data support the prediction that about 35 million Americans will hit the byways during the last holiday of the summer. 

The Labor Day travel period runs from Thursday, Sept. 1 through Monday, Sept. 5.

Lower overall gas prices this year have undeniably influenced what is expected to be a cumulative 3.3 percent growth in travel demand this year, adding an additional 50 billion vehicle miles of travel.

More recently, U.S. pump prices are again are on the rise heading into Labor Day weekend. The national average price has increased for 14 consecutive days, officials said. But at $2.22 a gallon, the average U.S. mark is still 24 cents below Idaho’s $2.46 average price for regular grade gasoline. 

“There are subplots in this year’s fuel price storyline, starting with the fact that gasoline prices are much lower than they have been in recent years,” Carlson stated. “That’s true nationwide and in Idaho, though Idahoans are still paying the sixth highest average price in the country.”

A week ago, Idaho’s average price was fifth highest in the U.S.

AAA Idaho said the last time Idaho’s prices were lower for the Labor Day holiday was back in 2004, when the average price in the Gem State was $1.96. During the most recent five-year period, Idaho’s average price for this holiday has been $3.25.

Idaho’s average price of $2.46 is 42 cents lower than a year ago ($2.88). Today’s U.S. average $2.22 price is 27 cents lower than a year ago ($2.49).

A number of factors have been driving prices higher for motorists in the U.S. including: higher crude oil prices, refinery issues in the Gulf coast, and the threat of a tropical weather system moving into the Gulf of Mexico.
Prices in the West have been higher than elsewhere this summer, but recent increases in the region have been less pronounced than in other parts of the country, Carlson pointed out.

Hot weather and the impacts of wildfires in the region -- including lots of smoke -- will limit some outdoor destinations for Idahoans, said Carlson. Restaurants, hotels, shopping, boating, and golf may replace or limit some camping experiences associated with the holiday.

Here’s a look at today’s prices on and off the beaten path in  Idaho:  Arco is at $2.50/gallon, Boise, $2.49; Coeur d’Alene, $2.38; Driggs, $2.48; Idaho Falls, $2.42; Kooskia, $2.43; Lewiston, $2.38; Nampa, $2.49; Pocatello, $2.45; Riggins, $2.40; and Twin Falls, $2.39.