Workers in These States Spend the Most Time Commuting

Lisa Steuer McArdle
Dec 12, 2021 · 4 min read
Have you ever stopped to think about how much time you actually spend traveling on your commute in a whole year? Turns out, if you live in Maryland, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, or New York, you might be spending more time commuting than workers in other states, according to our data here at Jerry.
There are a number of factors that contribute to a longer commute time. Plus, the pandemic has changed the way many people work. Let’s take a look at the states with the highest commuting times, why it might be higher in these areas, and how remote work factors in. 
Traffic on a New York City street with view of a bus and two cars
New Yorkers spend the most time commuting in a year.

How much time is spent commuting?

According to our data, New Yorkers are at the top of the list and spend an average of 289 hours a year commuting to work.
New Yorkers are followed by Marylanders, who spend about 286 hours a year commuting. Then New Jersey residents come in at 275, followed by Washington, D.C., at 263, and then by Massachusetts residents at 258.
While the COVID-19 pandemic removed the commute for many Americans who began to work at home either temporarily, permanently, or on a hybrid system, commuting did seem to increase in years prior.
According to the New York Times, those who take more than 90 minutes to commute in each direction are part of a group called “supercommuters.” The number of workers making such long commutes rose 45% between 2010 and 2019.
It’s interesting because while the total workforce reportedly grew only by only 13%, there were about 4.6 million people who were part of that supercommuter group by 2019. That’s 3.1% of all U.S. workers.
What about the states whose residents spend the least time commuting? Apparently, if you want to spend less time commuting, you should move to North Dakota or South Dakota. North Dakota residents spend about 148 hours a year commuting while it seems South Dakota residents spend the least amount of time commuting a year at 147 hours. 

Why do some states spend more time commuting? 

When you look at the states with residents who spend the most time commuting, it makes sense, since these states typically have one or more busy metropolitan areas.
In Maryland, commuting times in Baltimore have only gotten worse over the last 10 years, according to the Baltimore Sun. In fact, the publication points out that Baltimore residents even got to work two-and-a-half minutes faster in 2017 than they did in 2018 when the article was published.
Although the report came out before the pandemic, the Baltimore Sun made a good point about the American commute, stating it’s influenced by many different factors—including growth in suburban areas. The publication pointed to a 2015 Brookings Institution report that claimed jobs and people shifted outward from urban areas in the 2000s—which has probably also had an influence on commuting times in states with big cities. 

Has the pandemic changed work commuting forever?

Today, the pandemic has changed the way many Americans work, with many opting to continue working from home after offices were shut down in 2020. More Americans are also leaving their positions to look for more flexible or remote work.
In fact, according to CNBC, a survey showed that 76% of respondents prefer their work to permanently provide a flexible working environment in terms of schedule and/or location.
But the New York Times suggests that COVID-19 may actually create more supercommuters due to the pandemic exodus from urban areas to the suburbs. As a result, we might see even more supercommuters as offices open up again.
Interestingly, though, the distance from home to office may not actually determine commute time. As the New York Times points out, statistics show that traffic, infrastructure, and poor public transportation increase commute time more than the actual distance one lives from their place of employment—and about half of supercommuters actually live within 30 minutes of their job.
As new COVID-19 variants spread, offices and commuting patterns may continue to adapt to workers’ preferences and needs in 2022 and beyond.

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