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How Many Houstonians Travel 90 Minutes to Get to Work? The Survey Says: It’s a Lot

HOUSTON – (By Dale King, Realty News Report) – It’s a bird; it’s a plane; it’s a super commuter.

These are the brave souls who travel 90 minutes or more getting to work. And that’s just the one-way segment.

Nationally, 2.9% of workers are super commuters – long riders aboard cars, buses, trains and other modes of transport, says a recent survey by Apartment List. A miniscule number of super commuters might walk or ride a bike to work.

The survey, drafted by Chris Salviati of Apartment List, tells the tale of a workplace commutes getting longer, even if the distances aren’t particularly great.

The Apartment List report says the number of American workers who bear the burden of a 90-minute or more ride each way grew by 32% from 2005 to 2017. “This is more than triple the 9% growth rate for workers with commutes shorter than 90 minutes,” says the report.

To ascertain the impact nationwide, the document lists data for every county in the nation and includes an interactive map that provides on-the-spot info on this fast-growing portion of the population.

The percentage of super commuters in the rest of Houston is:

  • 6.5% of Houston workers who live in Austin County are super commuters, the highest rate in the Houston metro. Chambers County has the metro’s lowest super commuter share at 2.0%.

  • Brazoria County (part of The Woodlands-Sugar Land Metropolitan Statistical Area), 2.2%. Brazoria County’s largest city is Pearland.

  • Fort Bend County, the wealthiest county in Texas, 2.4%. The county’s largest city is Sugar Land. It was ranked by Forbes as the fifth-fastest growing county in the United States.

  • GalvestonCounty, with a population of 335,036 and county seat in Galveston, 2.9%.

  • Harris County, the most populous county in Texas with more than four million people, 2.1%. Harris County is included in the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan statistical area, fifth most populous metropolitan area in the United States.

  • Liberty County, named for the popular American ideal of liberty, 5.5%.

  • Montgomery County, north of Houston, 4.2%. Montgomery County covers 1,047 square miles.

  • Waller County’s commuter population is 3.3% super commuter, about half of what it was in 2005.

Among workers in the Houston metro who rely on public transit, 11.3% are super commuters, compared to 2.2% of those who commute by car.

Among various occupations, 11.2% of workers in the extraction trade — which encompass oil drilling — are super commuters. This is the highest rate among all occupation categories, followed by construction occupations at 5.9%, says the report.

The report says recent increases in super commuting are often attributed to middle-class workers in superstar cities being priced out to far-flung suburbs. “However, county-level data shows that super commuting is also common among low-income workers who rely on public transit, as well as blue-collar workers in certain pockets of rural America.”

“We also find that super commuting is common in areas closer to the urban core, where workers who rely on public transit may face rides of 90 minutes or more, even if they’re not traveling great distances in terms of mileage,” said Salviati.

He added: “Super commuting hot spots also show up in pockets of rural America, where blue collar workers in select occupations commute far distances to remote job sites.”

Asked specifically about the Houston situation, Salviati commented: “Generally, the counties that have the highest rates of super commuting are those on the outskirts of the metro, furthest from downtown Houston where the region’s jobs are clustered. Housing is typically less expensive in these areas, and so folks who can’t afford to live close to downtown end up bearing with long commute times in order to maintain a cost of living that fits within their budgets.”

Many rural counties with high rates of super commuting also have a high share of workers in these occupations. In Elko County, Nevada — which ranks number 11 out of more than 3,000 counties in the U.S. for super commuting — 10.5% of workers fall under the “natural resources and mining” occupation code, compared to just 1.3% nationally.

Salviati said super commuters “are highly concentrated on the peripheries of the nation’s supply-constrained coastal hubs, with the San Francisco and New York City regions serving as prime examples.”

Pike County, Penn., which sits on the far outskirts of the New York City metro, has the nation’s highest super commuter share, with a staggering 17% of the workforce commuting 90 minutes or more each way.

However, in contrast to these, the county-level data for New York also shows that super commutes are not limited to those traveling great distances. Richmond County, New York — better known as Staten Island — sits a short distance from Manhattan but has the nation’s fifth highest super commuter share at 14.3%. These commuters are likely getting to work via time-consuming public transit options, in which a single trip might include traveling by bus, ferry, subway and foot. While Staten Island is the furthest removed from Manhattan, the survey observe elevated levels of super commuting in each of New York City’s outer boroughs.

Aug. 21, 2019 Realty News Report Copyright 2019

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