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More Than 1 Million Area Residents To Hit The Road For Thanksgiving

By Aaron Kraut

Friday - 11/22/2013, 11:25am  ET

The Capital Beltway at River RoadAAA Mid-Atlantic says there will be a slight decrease in the number of Washington area residents who travel out of town for Thanksgiving this year, but that number will still surpass the 1 million mark.

AAA projects 1,058,000 metro area residents will head 50 miles or more from home from Wednesday, Nov. 27 to Sunday, Dec. 1, the official Thanksgiving travel period. Most of those people will leave Wednesday and about a quarter, according to the projections, will return later than Dec. 1, taking full advantage of the long holiday weekend.

The projection is a 1.1 percent decrease, about 12,000 people, short of last year’s number. But it marks the fourth straight year AAA says over a million people will get away for Thanksgiving after the Recession caused big decreases in 2008 and 2009.

AAA thinks federal budget cuts and the federal government shutdown might be behind this year’s decrease.

“Despite the big drop in gas prices this holiday when compared to last Thanksgiving, local residents have been coping with the lingering impact of the sequestration and they are still reeling from the effects of the federal government shutdown in October, both of which hit the regional labor market really hard, especially government contract workers, at the psychic, pocketbook and deeply personal levels,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic government affairs official John Townsend III.

Still, nearly one out of five area residents will head out of town this Thanksgiving, most by car. Thanksgiving air travel is expected to drop 3.6 percent form last year with 72,900 D.C. area travelers.