This Is the State With the Longest Commute

Heavy traffic, which was part of city life for decades, disappeared during the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Offices were closed. Some people were afraid that crowded places had become dangerous. This decline in highway congestion has disappeared. In many cities, the volume of commuters is back to what it had been in 2019.

Heavy traffic has several effects. Among the most problematic is that, as gasoline prices have risen above $4 for the average gallon of regular nationwide, commuting has become much more expensive than it was a year ago. In some large cities, the price of gas is closer to $5 a gallon. Another effect of congestion is that people spend more of their time in traffic, and this is sometimes so long that it is measured by days per year, and not hours.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average commute time in the United States is 26.9 minutes. For those who have shifted to full-time remote work, this translates to about 4.5 free hours per week that they did not have before, or nearly 10 days a year.

Using census data, 24/7 Wall St. identified the state with the longest commutes. States are ranked based on their average commute time, from shortest to longest.

Depending on the state, average commute times range from as low as 17.3 minutes up to 33.5 minutes. While these differences are minor on any given day, they add up over longer periods. In some states, average commute times total less than three hours a week, or about six days a year, while in others, they add up to more than five hours a week and 12 days a year.

Variations in average commute times among states appear to be closely tied to the means of transportation used. While there are exceptions, in states with the shortest average commute times, the share of commuters who drive to work alone is typically higher than the 74.9% national average. Similarly, in states with the longest commute times, the share of workers who rely on public transit often exceeds the 4.6% national average.

The state with the longest commute time is New York. Here are the details:

  • Average commute time: 33.5 minutes
  • Share of commuters driving alone: 52.3% (the lowest)
  • Share of commuters carpooling: 6.4% (the lowest)
  • Share of commuters using public transit: 26.2% (the highest)

Methodology: To determine the state with the longest commutes, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed five-year estimates of average commute times from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey (ACS).

States were ranked based on their average commute time. To break ties, we used the share of workers with a commute of 45 minutes or longer.

Additional information on the share of commuters driving alone, carpooling and using public transit is also from the 2020 ACS and figures are five-year estimates. Because the Census Bureau did not release one-year estimates for 2020 due to data collection issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, all ACS data are five-year estimates.

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