Homeowners Living Farther From Their Work

The typical American commute continues to get longer and longer. The average commute time grew to 26.4 minutes, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau. Multiplied out, the average American spends about three hours and 20 minutes longer getting to and from work than they did in 2014.

Read more: As Commutes Worsen, Cities Get Innovative

Even longer commutes than that are the norm for many workers. The number of workers with 45-minute commutes increased to 3.5 percent and the number of hour-long commutes increased to 5.1 percent. Workers with extreme commutes — 90 minutes or more — grew by the fastest rate of all, to 8 percent.

The sprawl of suburban and exurban areas has led to the lengthening of commutes, according to a Brookings report. The number of jobs within a standard commute distance shrank by 7 percent between 2000 and 2012.

“We continue to see specific metro areas either grow outward, or just outright add population,” says Adie Tomer, an infrastructure researcher at the Brookings Institution. The growth of suburban, low-density housing “is pulling housing and jobs farther apart.”

One potential future bright spot for workers faced with longer commute times is the gradual growing acceptance of remote working. About 4.6 percent of workers, or 6.8 million, worked from home in 2015, according to U.S. Census data. That is a 5 percent increase since 2014.

Source: “The American Commute Is Worse Today Than It’s Ever Been,” The Washington Post (Feb. 22, 2017)

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