Memorial Day weekend has usually been a time for families to take a big car trip, and 31.8 million Americans will do so this Memorial Day weekend according to AAA. But the total number of miles driven per person peaked in June of 2005 at the height of the economic expansion and has declined by about -866 miles per year or -2.4 miles per day since.
It is normal for driving to slow for a year or so during a recession. But the continuous decline in American driving habits over the last 8.8 years is coming from 16-34 year old Millennials that are not seeing an economic recovery from the Great Recession.
About 88% of people that take a trip on Memorial Day weekend (Thursday, May 22 to Monday, May 26) travel by car on a journey of more than 50 miles. The Memorial weekend average cost of gasoline rose from $2.76 in 2010 to $3.96 in 2011 but has held steady at about $3.63 per gallon for the last three years. Historically, this type of lower gasoline cost despite inflation has encouraged more and longer distance car trips.
The graphic blog, dshort.com, found that vehicle travel per person peaked in June of 2005 and has declined by 9.3% to a “new post-Financial Crisis low” in March. The last time travel was this low was in December of 1994 during President Clinton’s first term. The previous worst period of travel decline was 39 months during the stagflation and double-dip recession era of the late 1970s during the Carter Administration and into the Reagan Administration in the early 1980s. The current decline has lasted for 106 months under the Obama Administrations.
Social scientists suggest that the continuing trend in shrinking travel may be due to the demographics of an aging population where older people drive less, continuing high unemployment, or the ability to work remotely in the Internet era and the growth of Skyping as a substitute for face-to-face interaction.
The severe economic recession did affect the miles driven for all age groups. But the numbers reveal that since 2010 people over 34 have started driving more miles. But for Millennials aged 16 to 34, they are driving 33% fewer miles on average than in 2001.
Progressives like to pretend that Millennials are more satisfied riding public transportation and playing video games on the internet than driving a car. But the real issue is that Millennials have been suffering from their own recession that started in 2006 and has lasted for over 8 years.
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