Americans’ Commute Times Swell to Record High

October 11, 2019

Consumers are spending more time getting to work. On average, Americans’ one-way commute times rose to just over 27 minutes in 2018—a record high according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

The average American has added about two minutes to their one-way commute since 2009. That has added 20 more minutes a week in commuting, and over a year that is 17 additional hours on the road from home to work and vice versa.

Compared with 1980, American workers have lost nearly an hour a week from commuting. The average American worker spent 225 hours—or the equivalent of nine calendar days—commuting in 2018.

“Rising commute times reflect the challenges of life in many metropolitan areas where new housing isn’t being built fast enough,” The Washington Post reports. “As a result, many workers are forced out to far-flung suburbs and exurban areas in search of affordable homes. … Rising commute times are likely to spur more workers and employers to experiment with remote work.”

Indeed, the census data shows a growing share—albeit still relatively small at this point—of Americans who are telecommuting and working from home. In 2018, about 5% of the workforce telecommuted, the percentage has grown over the past decade, the data shows.