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Every year, I look forward to this day. Not because it’s the start of a three-day weekend (at a weekly newspaper that goes to press on Tuesday night, three day weekends mean torture). Not because football season is starting, though that’s always a bonus. Not because the temperatures are falling, because September in D.C. can be grueling.
It’s because I get to laugh at the AAA annual Labor Day travel forecast, or the biggest fraud this side of I-95.
This year’s projections don’t disappoint. Here’s a Bloomberg report on the AAA conclusions:
The number of people taking trips of at least 50 miles from home today through Sept. 1 will fall 0.9 percent from a year earlier to 34.4 million, according to AAA, the largest U.S. motorist group. That would make Labor Day the third straight U.S. holiday with a decline.
Zero-point-nine percent? How’re they coming up with that number? Do you think they like the decimals just to give the impression of exactitude here?
Never doubt AAA. As this paper reported in 2005, the travel survey is “based in part on a telephone survey of 1,300 U.S. adults and in part on a “proprietary forecasting model developed by [the Travel Industry Association],” according to an AAA official. The TIA thing is called the Holiday Travel Forecast Model.
And if the Holiday Travel Forecast Model says that 0.9 percent fewer people will hit the road this Labor Day, then by golly, enjoy those wide-open roads and security checkpoints!