Americans Spend Over 100 Hours a Year Commuting

More time spent driving to work than taking vacations

Bumper to bumper traffic
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At a nationwide average one-way drive-time of about 25.5 minutes, Americans spend more than 100 hours a year commuting to work, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Yes, that's more than the average two weeks of vacation time (80 hours) taken by many workers during a year. This number has increased by over a minute in 10 years.

“This annual information on commuters and their work trips and other transportation-related data will help local, regional and state agencies maintain, improve, plan and develop the nation’s transportation systems,” said Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon in a press release.

American Community Survey data will provide valuable assistance to agencies offering housing, education and other public services as well.” Data has been released through 2013.

Compare this with the federal government's estimate of computing the hourly rate based on working 2,080 hours per year. Spending 100 hours commuting adds a significant amount of unpaid time to the work day of the American worker.

Map of Commute Times

You can find the average commute time for most communities in the U.S. with a map based on the U.S. Census Bureau data provided by WNYC. The color-coded map shades commute times from white for zero minutes to deep purple for more than an hour. If you are deciding on where to move, the map can give you interesting information on your commute times.

The data released for 2013 showed that only 4.3 percent of workers had no commute because they worked from home. Meanwhile, 8.1 percent had commutes of 60 minutes or more.

A quarter of commuters cross county lines going to and from work.

Maryland and New York have the highest average commute times while North Dakota and South Dakota have the lowest.

Megacommutes

Almost 600,000 American workers have megacommutes of at least 90 minutes and 50 miles. They are more likely to carpool than those with shorter commutes, but that number is still only 39.9 percent.

Carpooling in general has declined since the year 2000. However, not all of them are driving as 11.8 percent take rail and 11.2 percent take other forms of public transportation.

Long commutes are highest for those in the state of New York at 16.2 percent, Maryland (14.8 percent), and New Jersey (14.6 percent). Three-quarters of megacommuters are male and they are more likely to be older, married, make a higher income, and have a spouse who doesn't work. They often depart for work before 6 a.m.

Alternate Commutes

Those who take public transit, walk, or bike to work still make up a small part of the total. That overall number hasn't changed much since 2000, although the segments of it have. There has been a slight increase in those who take public transit, with 5.2 percent in 2013 compared with 4.7 percent in 2000. There was a dip in those who walk to work by one-tenth of a percent and growth in those who bike by two-tenths of a percent. But those numbers are still small at 2.8 percent walking to work and 0.6 percent biking to work.

Sources:

Megacommuters. U.S. Census Bureau Release Number: CB13-41.

U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2013.

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Longley, Robert. "Americans Spend Over 100 Hours a Year Commuting." ThoughtCo, Jul. 29, 2017, thoughtco.com/americans-commuting-over-100-hours-yearly-3320980. Longley, Robert. (2017, July 29). Americans Spend Over 100 Hours a Year Commuting. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/americans-commuting-over-100-hours-yearly-3320980 Longley, Robert. "Americans Spend Over 100 Hours a Year Commuting." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/americans-commuting-over-100-hours-yearly-3320980 (accessed November 21, 2017).