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For a growing number of people, it is becoming more difficult to endure the average US commute.
It is no wonder why there is an ever-growing list of ridesharing companies that have completely revolutionized the model of car-sharing.
It can be particularly frustrating when a commuter has no choice but to sit in traffic because of congestion, housing preferences, or sheer distance alone.
Whatever the contributing factors are, America is seeing a consistent increase in average commute time.
What this portion of the population knows all too well is that a long commute can negatively affect the sleep habits, productivity, and quality of life of American workers, it can also induce road rage.
However, not all states or cities are experiencing these changes equally.
Find out the average US commute by state, and which have the worst commute and which have the shortest commute.
What does your commute mean for the environment?
Find out with our interactive car polution map.
Table Of Contents
- What is the Average US Commute in 2022?
- Average Commute per State
- How Long of a Commute is Too Long?
- Making the Best Out of Your Commute
- Final Word
What is the Average US Commute in 2022?
In short, the cost of commuting is huge.
The average US commute time is 52.2 minutes a day commuting to and from work, but in many parts of the country, things are even worse.
Over the course of just a week, that’s 4.35 hours a week spent commuting.
According to the Inrix Global Scorecard, US states with the longest commutes have lost over 100 hours per year with over $1,500 per driver expended due to congestion.
This figure, calculated by the Census Bureau, indicates that this 2019 commuter data is steadily increasing from previous records.
Projecting this figure over years and decades becomes even more astounding.
While an increase of a few minutes over a few years or between states might not seem like a drastic change, these increments multiply into losses in productivity in the big picture.
The financial impact of traffic on residents of a city can be as simple as wasted gas or as intricate as delayed transportation workers raising housing costs.
That got us thinking — how many days does the average person spend commuting to and from work over the course of their life?
We did the math for nearly 1,000 US cities.
The average American loses 408 days of their life commuting, and in many areas, the toll is even higher.
Interactive Map By City and State
Using the interactive map below, you can see how many days of your life you can expect to be in the car.
How to Use the Interactive Average US Commute Map
The above map is interactive and easy to use.
If you want to see commute times in your area, simply click the pin icon on the upper-left corner of the map, and it will zoom into your city (assuming you aren’t using a VPN).
You can also click the magnifying glass to search by city name if you don’t want to use your IP location.
From there, simply click on the nearest dot on the map and you’ll see data on that area’s average daily round trip commute time in minutes as well as the total number of days you can expect to spend commuting over your career.
One note for mobile users — you may find the map tool displays better if you flip your device to display horizontally.
So, are you rethinking your commute yet?
Average Commute per State
States with the longest commute
If you live in or near a densely populated city, you know from experience that this is where much of the country’s congestion lies.
With astronomical populations, many jobs, and popular routes, it is no wonder that the densest cities produce the longest commutes.
Here are the longest-commuting states:
- New York
Whether workers are navigating within a city or traveling to and from a hot spot, the transit times quickly add up.
California suffers from long commute times because of its numerous congested cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Pennsylvania, on the other hand, sees longer commutes due to the more spread out housing community like East Stroudsburg and congested cities like Philadelphia.
States with the shortest commute
Short commute times are an advantage that may be due to proximal living and working locations or lighter traffic.
Depending on the type of job the population holds, they could be more prone to living on-site, closer to work, or driving on open roads.
Here are the states with the shortest commutes:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
These sprawling and slow-paced states offer great benefits to workers who don’t want to waste their days on a commute.
How Long of a Commute is Too Long?
When the US Census started collecting data on daily commutes in 1980, the average time it took for citizens to travel to work was 21.7 minutes.
Over three decades, that average shifted up a staggering 20 percent.
In 2016, the average commute was 26 minutes.
Yet, the portion of commutes which were 45 minutes or longer is growing steadily to a solid 17% compared to only 12% of the 1980 population traveling for 45 minutes or more.
The concern lies in a steady increase in commute times.
With more and more time in the day being lost to traveling, it seems like the effect on productivity and even sleep can only be negative.
As we all know, there is no time to spare on this growing problem.
While the recent lockdown procedures between 2020 and 2022 significantly decreased traffic in even the most high-traffic areas, this lull would not last forever.
Already, many areas have returned or surpassedthe pre-Covid levels to indicate that the problem of growing commutes is not gone yet.
Considering the effects longer commutes have on workers’ sleep habits, productivity, and quality of life, this is an issue that will continue to grow more concerning, especially as many have tasted the freedom of easier drives and remote working during the pandemic.
Making the Best Out of Your Commute
Though we all hope to see reform and improvements in the tortuous daily commutes, we can still make the best of our lot until quicker and more efficient methods are introduced.
Perhaps the best remedy to the curse of a long drive is to transform your attitude about it.
Here are some ways that you can take back control of your day and enjoy your drive even when it is longer than you’d prefer:
- Queue up a new podcast or audiobook to listen to on the road. Engaging your mind and your ears is a safe and productive way to spend the extra time.
- Use this quiet time in the morning and night to pray or meditate. Reflecting and processing through your day can take away the stress of the moment and get you ready to hit the ground running.
- Look into getting a car with great gas mileage. This will save you money in the long run, even if you don’t think it will.
- With hands-free technology readily available, ask your device to call a friend or family member to have a low-key chat during your commute.
- Ask around to carpool with local coworkers. The extra company and sustainable driving will instantly improve the trip.
You can also get creative and get paid for car advertising, turning those dead miles into cash.
Car wrap companies like Wrapify or Carvertise will pay you to wrap your car and drive around, giving valuable exposure to brands looking to expand.
The irritation of congested commutes arises in all Americans who have woes of wasted time, lost sleep, and stressful driving.
While there is no simple solution to these large-scale problems, awareness and acceptance can provide at least short-term relief from this frustrating reality.
If you are considering moving to one of these traffic hotspots, be sure to investigate your driving routes and how they may affect the environment and your mental health.
But in the meantime, adopt some of these tips to make the drive more enjoyable.
And don’t forget to use a mileage tracker app to track your miles, potentially saving you money during tax time!
So, how did we calculate the number of days you can expect to spend commuting in your life in each city?
For the purposes of this study, we assumed the average person starts full-time work at 18 (some people start earlier, others a bit later).
We also know the average retirement age is 63 in the United States.
That’s 45 years of working a full-time job.
We then worked from the assumption that most people work about 250 days per year, which accounts for 2 weeks annual vacation and time off.
That’s 11,250 days of working/commuting over a career.
From here, we simply used data from the US Census Bureau on average daily roundtrip commute times for nearly 1,000 cities and towns across the country and then did the math.
In 2019, the duration of the average one-way commute in the United States increased to a new high of 27.6 minutes, and a record 9.8 percent of commuters reported daily one-way commutes of at least 1 hour.What does average commute time mean? ›
Definition: Commute time refers to the average number of minutes a commuter spends traveling to work on a typical day.What percentage of commuters travel more than 45 minutes? ›
About 90 percent of the men and women had trips of more than 45 minutes each way, putting them in the long-distance category for many parts of the world. A fair number were extreme commuters, too, trekking as much as three hours daily.How much commute is normal? ›
The average American travels 16 miles each way to their office and 220 million spend at least 1.5 hours a day in their cars. Globally, those numbers are lower, but not by much: 61% of people in the European Union put in 60 minutes per day commuting.How long is too long of a commute? ›
But how far is too far to drive to work? You live too far from work if your daily commute severely interferes with your normal life. If your drive to work and back home exceeds 2 hours, then it is definitely too far. This means that your daily commute takes at least 8.3% of your day.What is the longest reasonable commute? ›
- Palmdale, California. Average round-trip commute: 85.4 minutes. ...
- New York, New York. Average round-trip commute: 81.6 minutes. ...
- Jersey City, New Jersey. ...
- Corona, California. ...
- Newark, New Jersey. ...
- Santa Clarita, California. ...
- Chicago, Illinois. ...
- Moreno Valley, California.
Technically, a reasonable commuting distance is one that is less than 50 straight-line miles from the employee's residence. If it does not increase their commute by more than five straight-line miles, that would be considered a reasonable distance as well. Driving for near about 30 minutes is also a short distance.Which state has the longest average commute time? ›
Maryland has the farthest average commute of all the states, its commuters traveling an average of 51.76 miles round trip per commute. Their average commute time is also high, second to only New Yorkers' travel time at 32.9 minutes driving one way and 65.8 minutes spent commuting per day.How far should you live from work? ›
Thirty minutes at most, according to the wisdom of the crowds. That comes from reams of data and piles of research that suggests commute times tend to cluster around this point.How long does the average person spend commuting? ›
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average commute time for Americans in 2019 was just under 28 minutes, and that was just one way. In total, Americans spent 55 minutes driving to and from work per day, and even longer if they lived in major metro areas.
One reason commutes are so stressful, economists say, is the unpredictability and lack of control. Not only are you spending lots of time in your car, but you're also facing stress when you hit a traffic jam and worry that you'll be late for work or to pick up your kid.Is a longer commute worth a nicer house? ›
A cheaper home
The reason so many people have long commutes is that they can open up cheaper housing options. If you're willing to commute 30 minutes to an hour, you may find a neighborhood where homes cost half as much as those in the city.
Commutes longer than 45 minutes are up 12 percent in that time span, and 90-minute one-way commutes are 64 percent more common than in 1990. The longer your commute, the less time you have for family, friends, exercise and nutrition—and it's awful for your mental state.Is a 10 mile commute too long? ›
Studies have confirmed that these commutes, some as short as 10 miles, have numerous detrimental effects on health that include everything from lower happiness to high blood pressure.How far does the average American drive to work? ›
What is the national average commute to work? The U.S. Census Bureau reports the average one-way travel time to work in 2019 was 27.6 minutes, up from 25 minutes in 2006. Federal Highway Administration data from 2020 indicates motorists in the U.S. drive an average of 35 miles per day.What city has the longest commute to work? ›
- Newark (35.3 minutes)
- San Francisco (34.4 minutes)
- Riverside-San Bernardino (32.7 minutes)
- Atlanta (32.2 minutes)
- Chicago (31.8 minutes)
- Baltimore (31.5 minutes)
- Boston (31.4 minutes)
- Los Angeles (30.8 minutes)
|Rank||City||Avg. commute time (minutes)|
|1||Temescal Valley, California||47.7|
Midas sponsored an "America's Longest Commute" award in 2006. The winner, from Mariposa, California, drove a 372-mile roundtrip (about 7 hours) to and from work in San Jose each day.Is 45 minutes too long of a commute? ›
Commutes longer than 45 minutes are up 12 percent in that time span, and 90-minute one-way commutes are 64 percent more common than in 1990. The longer your commute, the less time you have for family, friends, exercise and nutrition—and it's awful for your mental state.How long is the average daily commute? ›
The average US commute time is 52.2 minutes a day commuting to and from work, but in many parts of the country, things are even worse.
What is the national average commute to work? The U.S. Census Bureau reports the average one-way travel time to work in 2019 was 27.6 minutes, up from 25 minutes in 2006. Federal Highway Administration data from 2020 indicates motorists in the U.S. drive an average of 35 miles per day.What is a reasonable commute to work? ›
Technically, a reasonable commuting distance is one that is less than 50 straight-line miles from the employee's residence. If it does not increase their commute by more than five straight-line miles, that would be considered a reasonable distance as well. Driving for near about 30 minutes is also a short distance.Should I commute 45 minutes to work? ›
People who started the study with a commute of less than 45 minutes were more likely to extend their travel time, so that they could move to a better area, buy a home of their own, or take a more desirable job. “We find that 45 minutes is an inflection point where the behavioural preference changes.How far should you live from work? ›
Thirty minutes at most, according to the wisdom of the crowds. That comes from reams of data and piles of research that suggests commute times tend to cluster around this point.