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Utahns and other Mountain West residents are expected to travel in large numbers during the upcoming Labor Day weekend, even in the face of a sluggish economy and higher gasoline prices.

AAA Utah forecasts that 2.4 million people in the region will travel 50 miles or more from their homes this coming three-day weekend, an increase of 3.2 percent compared with last year.

"Although many Mountain West residents are still caught in fragile economic affairs, they will be traveling, but cutting back on other expenses," AAA Utah spokeswoman Rolayne Fairclough said in a statement announcing the results of the travel services company's Labor Day survey.

She said many of those surveyed expected to curtail shopping, take shorter trips, travel by an alternative mode of transportation and stay with family and friends to avoid higher expenditures over the holiday weekend.

This year, as in the past, trips by automobile will be the preferred method of travel, with more than 2 million Mountain West residents driving to reach their holiday destinations. That will be a 3.4 percent increase, compared with 2011.

More than 200,000 people are expected to travel by air, an increase of 3.9 percent over last year. Another 200,000 are expected to travel by other modes of transportation, such as bus and rail, Fairclough said.