In Spokane County, the average commute time is 21 minutes. Not bad, right? For now, because commute times appear to be growing. In particular, the number of commuters who travel 90 minutes or more to get to work increased sharply between 2010 and 2015, according to Governing.
Traffic experts, real estate analysts and others attribute this increase in drive times to growing housing costs and a reluctance to move, possibly related to the 2008 financial crisis. In all but ten states, the number of “super commuters” increased over the period, and in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Dakota and Rhode Island, census data shows it grew by more than 40 percent.
People with 90-minute commutes still represent a small share of commuters — ranging from 1 percent in Nebraska to nearly 6 percent in New York. But analysts say the spike in long trips reflects several broader trend:.
- Service workers can’t compete for urban apartments near their jobs.
- In tech job centers like Seattle and San Francisco, low-income workers are moving farther and farther away while high-income workers can still afford to live close to work, according to a 2015 Zillow study that looked at changes through 2014.
- Even among those who could afford to live anywhere, more are choosing faraway places because they can telecommute sometimes.
- The number of super commuters grew in a variety of jobs, from lawyers and computer scientists to teachers, cooks, janitors and maids.
Among elementary and middle school teachers, for instance, super commuters increased by 26 percent from 2010 to 2015. Police officers similarly saw a 31 percent increase in super commuters.
Oil and gas workers were the most likely to have super commutes, at 19 percent in 2015, while 18 percent of aircraft pilots and 16 percent of elevator repairmen faced rides of 90 minutes or more. On the other hand, fewer than 1 percent of telemarketers and funeral embalmers who commute to work faced rides of 90 minutes or more.
The article goes on to talk about how Hawaii’s tourism industry contributes to super commutes and why the fracking boom has taken away from long commutes in some states. Also, the article has an interactive map where you can click on each state to see the number of workers with commutes over 90 minutes and other commuting information.