Commuting is an essential part of the everyday working experience. Whether you drive yourself or use public transport, you are bound to encounter various pleasant — or not so much — situations on your way.
The commuting statistics we’ve gathered illustrate what travel back and forth to work looks like for people across the US.
We’ll focus on average commuting times, distances, and costs. By the time you’ve gone through all these stats, you’ll have a good idea of how your commute compares to the rest of the nation’s workforce.
US Commuting Statistics (Editor’s Pick)
- The typical US commute time lasts 27.1 minutes
- The average person spends over 200 hours commuting annually
- About 16% of Jersey City commuters need less than 14 minutes
- The typical Miami commute is 8.47 miles long
- Over 17% of New York workers commute for over an hour
- 20 additional minutes of commute makes workers as unhappy as a 19% pay cut
- Healthcare workers wages depend on their commute
- For 63% of job seekers, the commute is a deciding factor
Average Commuting Distance in the US
1. The average commute time is 27.1 minutes.
(US Census Bureau)
People in the New York-Newark-Jersey City metro area have an average commute time of 36.7 minutes. That’s the longest average commute time in the US.
On the other side of the spectrum, people in the Casper, WY, county area commute a little over 15 minutes on average.
2. Following the coronavirus pandemic, 35.2% of commuters switched to remote work.
The commuting statistics show the number of employees who kept commuting during the pandemic — 37.1% — is close to those who began working from home.
Around 15% were already telecommuting before these radical changes.
3. The typical household spent $2,094 on motor oil and gas in 2019.
Commuting in America is one of the most common reasons for using a car and one of the costliest. The average household spends over $2,000 annually on fuel and motor oil.
For comparison, the average household spent $1,443 on education and $786 on personal care products that year.
4. The average commuter rail price in 2019 was $6.53.
Commuting statistics in the US show that using a car isn’t ideal in some parts. For example, 30% of workers in New York City prefer the metro system.
Rail transportation tends to be more expensive than other modes of public transit. As the data indicates, the average one-way bus transit costs $1.63, several times cheaper than rail.
5. The average person spends over 200 hours commuting yearly.
When you add the commuting time to work and back, the hundreds of hours lost traveling amount to $5,200 in productive opportunities yearly.
The US labor force collectively spends 489 million hours annually commuting. That equals 14.5 billion miles, roughly 580,000 times the circumference of the Earth.
6. Each commuter travels 13,476 miles on average yearly.
(I Drive Safely)
The average American commute miles used to break the annual 10,000-benchmark easily before the COVID-19 pandemic.
By the end of the first half of 2020, commuting had dropped by 17%. People drove 264.2 billion miles fewer than in 2019.
7. 76.4% of the workers commute alone in their vehicles.
Only a tiny portion of the national average commute time happens through public transport, as most workers use their vehicles.
Only 2.6% of people take the subway, streetcar, or commuter train. Carpooling is more common — 8.9%. On the other hand, around 2.6% walk to work.
Commuting by motorcycle or scooter is the rarest of all, approximately 0.2%. Meanwhile, around 5.2% of employees work remotely.
Average Commute Distance by City
8. 98% of workers in Newark, NJ, commuted to their jobs in 2019.
The highest percentage of commuting workers is in Newark, NJ. The average distance to work takes 35 minutes.
According to the commuter statistics, the Midwest region has the shortest commutes, despite cities like Chicago and Cincinnati.
9. The average commute time to work in Riverside, CA, takes 33.9 minutes.
Riverside, CA, ranks as the city with one of the worst commuting in the US. 18.6% of the people live more than an hour away from their workplaces.
Commutes lasting over 60 minutes in Riverside increased by 3.7% from 2014 to 2019.
10. Commuters in San Diego, CA, travel for 24 minutes on average.
San Diego’s typical commute is a few minutes below the national average.
Around 20.1% of commuters have an average work commute time between 20 and 24 minutes, and 74.9% drive their cars.
11. The typical commute in Miami, FL, is 8.47 miles long.
(The Business Journal)
Miami is among the cities with the longest commutes — around 56 minutes on average.
Around 38% of workers have a commute longer than 7.5 miles. Moreover, 30% need to use three or more separate vehicle transfers.
Further contributing to Miami’s average commute distance to work is the 12% of people traveling over two hours.
12. Commuting in Washington, DC, costs $12,015.65 per year on average.
Washington has the longest and most expensive average commuting distance in the US.
The average commuting time of 37.04 minutes explains the high transportation costs.
Surprisingly, Washington has relatively low fuel costs — the average commuter pays $596.98 annually.
13. 8.2% of New York City commuters no longer use public transport following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Only 31.2% of New York City commuters haven’t changed how they use public transport following the pandemic. Meanwhile, 3.7% switched to other average American commute-to-work options, such as a car.
Another 8.2% of New Yorkers started using public transport more often than before.
14. 16.1% of workers in the New York City-Newark-Jersey City metro area commute less than 14 minutes.
That is the metro area with the longest commutes in the US.
On the other side of the average US commute distance is Wichita, with 46.3% of people traveling under 30 minutes. Only 2.5% travel for an hour or more.
15. Over 9% of low-income workers in Memphis, TN, work within a mile from their home.
16.8% of low-income and 20.3% of high-income workers have an average commuting distance between ten and 15 miles.
16. Seattle commute times have increased by 9.2 minutes since 1960.
(The Seattle Times)
Seattle residents are less likely to commute by car than the rest of the US. Only 51% of people drive to their workplace, as opposed to the national average of 76.4%.
Average Commute Distance by State and Region
17. 17.9% of New York workers have commutes longer than 60 minutes.
New York has the most commutes over 90 minutes in the US — 5.7%.
Of all cities in New York, Montrose has the longest time-wise average commute distance of 43.1 minutes. On the other hand, St. Bonaventure has the shortest, with an average of nine minutes.
18. 28% of DC workers considered their commute more difficult in 2019 than the previous year.
DC workers are commuting longer and longer. Over a quarter of workers have experienced a more challenging commute in 2019 compared to the previous year. That’s a 6% increase from 2016.
According to the DC commuting statistics, 60% of people commute via their own cars. Trains are the second-most common way of commuting, with 19%.
19. The typical commute in Vermont is 22.9 minutes long.
Compared to the rest of the States, Vermont has a fairly low commute time.
While Idaho, Iowa, and the Dakotas outrank it, Vermont has a far lower average commute to work than states like Maryland and New York.
20. North Dakota has an average commute time of 16.5 minutes.
(Work and Money)
North Dakota has the shortest average commute time in the country. South Dakota is second, with 17.3 minutes.
Wyoming follows closely with 17.6 minutes, outpacing the average commute times of Alabama (24.6) and Rhode Island (25.1).
21. People in the Midwest region spent an average of 24.5 minutes commuting in 2019.
The Midwest had a few minutes below the average American commute time of 27.1.
The South region, however, is very close with 27.3 minutes average time, while the Northeast has the longest — 31 minutes.
22. The typical Texas commute lasts 26.4 minutes.
(The Center Square)
Texas has the 15th longest average commute time in America. Laughlin is the city with the shortest average commute in the state.
8.3% of the people in Texas travel over an hour, while 3% of Nebraska’s workers face transit of such length.
Statistics on Traffic Time to Work
23. 20 additional minutes to the commute makes workers as unhappy as a 19% pay cut.
American Community Survey commuting data reveal that adding 20 minutes to a worker’s commute upsets them as much as reducing their pay by 19%.
It’s not all about the commute length as the mode of transport matters. For example, those who ride bikes to work are happier than those traveling by bus. People who walk are also more content.
24. About 870,000 people commute by bike.
Bike commuting statistics show approximately 0.6% of US workers cycle. The majority of them are between 16 and 24 years old.
25. 0.3% of workers outside of metropolitan areas cycle to work.
Bicycle commuting statistics show significantly more people in the cities cycle to work (1.1%) than in the rural parts of the US.
26. Between 2018 and 2019, around 78% of first-year students commuted or lived off-campus.
Most students regularly travel to attend classes, according to the most recent data.
CUNY— City College had the highest percentage of commuting students. According to commuter students statistics, 98% of its first-year students commute regularly.
Louisiana Tech University is second with 95%.
27. Adding a minute to commute time increases healthcare workers’ wages by 0.13%.
(Center for Health Workforce Studies)
There is a direct relation between commute distance and healthcare worker wages. The farther their workplace, the higher salary they receive. Those who work and live in different areas can earn up to 15.1% more.
Other deviations from the average commute time in the USA also affect healthcare workers’ salaries. For instance, carpooling and public transport correlate to lower wages by 9.8% and 21.4%, respectively.
28. US workers drive 25 miles per day on average.
The average American commute distance is around 27 minutes, and people spend about an hour behind the wheel daily.
29. 63% of US workers consider the commute a deciding factor when choosing a job.
Considering what the average commute to work in the US is, people have around 25 minutes to kill. Around one-third of commuters use this extra time to create imaginary to-do lists, and 10% try learning a new language.
Average American Commute to Work — Wrapup
The overview aims to help you better understand what essential part of professional life commuting is.
As these numbers and figures indicate, the average commuting distance and the available means of transport determine whether a job offer is a good fit and can even affect one’s salary.
Even though the required time and costs vary in every state and city, it is a rare opportunity to commute under 27 minutes.
People Also Ask
Close to 95% of workers in the US commute every day, and the remaining 5% work remotely.
Around 76.4% commute by personal vehicle. Carpooling is the second-most popular mean — 8.9%. Only 0.2% use motorcycles and scooters.
The average commute is 16 miles and varies based on the state you live and work in.
Over 3 million workers travel 50 miles twice per day on their way to and back from work.
The average commute is 27.1 minutes and varies based on the state you live and work in.
For example, North and South and Dakota have the shortest commute times of 16.5 and 17.6 minutes.
On the other hand, Maryland and New York have the longest average commuting times of 33.3 and 33.7 minutes.
On average, people in the US commute for 27.1 minutes. This time isn’t the same across the country.
Typically, employees who go to work by subway or commuter trains need 54.4 minutes. Bus travel lasts 47.1 minutes on average.
On the other hand, those who ride bikes or walk to work take 20.6 and 12.4 minutes, respectively.
Considering that the average time for US commuters is 27.1 minutes, it makes 40 minutes sound unpleasant in comparison.
Depending on your transportation means, this time can be used productively. Research into everyday commuter activities indicates that if you take the train or the metro, you can learn a new language, catch up on your sleep, or read.
In most cases, salary and benefits like flexible working hours weigh in on this topic. A few people, however, are willing to travel over 90 minutes for work. Commuting statistics indicate that 2-3% of the working population travel for over an hour and a half.
- Center for Health Workforce Studies
- Fuel Economy
- I Drive Safely
- National Bureau of Economic Research
- Reader’s Digest
- The Business Journal
- The Center Square
- The Seattle Times
- United States Census Bureau
- U.S. News
- Work and Mon0ey