How Far Do Americans Drive to Work on Average?by David Harris Updated August 07, 2023
If you drive a long distance one-way commute to your job each day, you are not alone. The U.S. Census Bureau (https://www.census.gov) has shown an increase in average commuting time since 2019.
According to ABC News, the average American commute is 16 miles to work each way, with a daily commute totaling nearly an hour round trip. Longer commutes are to be expected in high traffic areas such as Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., or New York City, and in heavily populated states such as Texas and California.
U.S. workers in areas with less public transport and traffic often have a shorter average commute time but may not have the shortest commuting distance. Some lower traffic or travel time but potentially longer commute mileage states include Idaho, Oklahoma, Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Alabama, Missouri, Ohio, New Mexico, or Mississippi.
While the average commute involves 30 minutes in the car each way, many people commute less than a mile to work each day or even less for those who do remote work following the pandemic. On the other hand, this national average is tempered by "extreme commuters" who must drive more than 100 miles each way to work during the week, or shortest commuters who may walk just a few steps to their home office before starting the workday.
The longest average commute in America belongs to New York City, demographics of the working class and heavy use of public transit contribute to a longer average commute time. States with the longest average include New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.
The shortest commutes belong to South Dakota, Wyoming, Alaska, North Dakota, and Montana.
According to ABC News, 220 million Americans average an hour and a half each day in their cars. About 3.3 million people travel at least 50 miles to work one way, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. There are also increasing numbers of commuters using carpool methods of travel due to inflation after previously having seen a decline from the 1990s to mid 2000s.
According to Gallup, people with higher income levels and those who work at least 40 hours per week have long commutes compared to others. And most Americans don't consider their commutes stress-inducing, according to the polling organization.
David Harris is a writer living in Portland, Ore. He currently is the editor-in-chief of the online magazine Spectrum Culture. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College.