Michiganders expect record holiday travel numbers despite gas hike

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- With the holidays around the corner, Michigan finds itself being the 14th most expensive state to buy gas, and according to analysts, the price is expected to rise in the new year.

The price of gas around the Grand Rapids area averages around $2.44 a gallon, according to GasBuddy. This is up from this time last year, when it was under $2, and higher than the current national average, which is $2.25.

However, the price at the pumps isn't likely to keep Michiganders from traveling. AAA of Michigan predicts we'll see the highest travel numbers in the state since they started tracking data in 2001.

FOX 17 spoke with GasBuddy analyst Patrick DeHaan, who says that one common misconception about gas prices is that they're affected by the holiday season. "Holidays are really irrelevant," DeHaan says. "Last year, we saw gas prices kind of staying stable, and then to start the new year, gas prices in Grand Rapids plunged by about 25 cents per gallon. I can count on both sides that gas prices have gone up before a holiday, down before a holiday."

Instead, DeHaan says rising costs across not just the state but the nation can be attributed to production cuts made by OPEC near the end of November.

"[The price hike is] soley because of the production cuts OPEC has made; it's pushed up oil prices from $43 per barrel to $52 per barrel," DeHaan said. "So, it doesn't really matter if there’s a holiday or not. Gas prices had some catching up to do in to the rise in the price of the oil, and that's what we're seeing."

The good news: DeHaan says he doesn't expect to see gas prices rising anymore for the week leading up to the holidays. However, that's tempered with his prediction that this spring and summer may see prices rise to the upper $2 range.

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