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Commuting in the United States

Posted by Content Coordinator on Tuesday, September 27th, 2011



This report describes patterns of commuting for the nation and metropolitan statistical areas (metro areas) based on the 2009 American Community Survey (ACS). In the United States, commutes make up less than 20 percent of all trips taken, but play a unique role within the mix of overall trips by determining peak travel demand across transportation systems. Federal, state, and local policymakers use the ACS to guide decisions about how to allocate limited public resources devoted to transportation. Planners use ACS commuting data to guide transportation improvement strategies, predict future travel demand, and gauge the amount of pressure placed on transportation infrastructure.

The ACS is an ongoing survey conducted annually by the U.S. Census Bureau that captures changes in the socioeconomic, housing, and demographic characteristics of communities across the United States and Puerto Rico. The ACS questions related to travel focus solely on commuting and do not ask about leisure travel or other nonwork trips. This report discusses commuting characteristics for workers 16 years and over who were employed during the week prior to the ACS reference week and did not work at home.

Respondents answer questions about where they work, what time they leave home for work, the means of transportation used to get there, the number of workers riding in a car, truck, or van, and how long it takes to travel to work. A reproduction of these questions can be found in Figure 1. The central topics of each section of this report are based on these commuting questions.

For each commuting attribute, findings are presented at the national and metro area levels for a variety of population characteristics such as sex, race, ethnicity, and workplace location. A set of more detailed tables associated with each commuting attribute is available for download through links provided throughout the report.

Commuting in the United States: 2009

Commuting in the United States: 2009

Download full version (PDF): Commuting in the United States: 2009

About the US Census Bureau
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