Last month, the U.S. Census Bureau released a report titled “Out-of-State and Long Commutes,” examining commuter habits of workers across the country. The report describes that, nationally, 8.1% of not-from-home U.S. workers have commutes of an hour or longer. This rate has remained fairly steady over the last decade, as has the average commute of all workers (between 25 and 26-minutes each way) and the rate of commuters traveling an average of 90 minutes each way (about 3%).
The report breaks down the figures across demographics, methods of transportation, and geography—revealing a number of interesting patterns about U.S. worker commutes. Unsurprisingly, the states with the greatest number of over 60-minute commuters were California and New York, with 1.53 million and 1.37 million commuters, respectively. Often, these raw numbers correlate with state populations.
The percentages of state populations engaging in so-called “mega-commutes,” however, are not steady across the country. The state with the highest percentage of mega-commuters is New York. The state has a 16.2% mega-commuter rate. Next, is Maryland, with 14.8%. But following at a very close third is New Jersey, with 14.6%.
New Jersey leads the country in the number of residents that leave the state for work—almost 400,000. This is largely due to the state’s proximity to New York City and Philadelphia.
“[N]ext time you get angry about your commute,” one related editorial insists, “you can blame the historical accident that placed New Jersey between two major metropolitan areas. Then again, it might be why you live here in the first place.”
Citing New Jersey’s high rate of mega-commuting, several recent articles warn of the stresses of long daily commutes. The Star-Ledger cited to a separate commuter study done by NYU Professor Rich Wener.
“There seemed to be a linear relationship between the amount of time spent on the trip and the amount of stress,” said Wener, describing the results of his study. “The longer the commute, the worse the stress.”
And stress, the study declared, can lead to decreased attentiveness on the road—a consequence that naturally has ramifications for the safety of local roadways. Several other studies have been done on the connection between various life stresses and car accidents (see, for example, an article on the correlation between recent separation/divorce and serious car accidents).
Travelers, especially in New Jersey, are weary and worn. They should therefore take care to pay extra attention to the task of the commute itself and try to reduce stress as much as is possible.
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