The commuter mode split for New York City looks different in the most recent census than it did a decade ago. Notably, some 4,000 commuters hop a plane to work, a demographic that didn't even appear in previous census data. Director of NYU's Rudin Center, Mitchell Moss notes that this growing trend indicates a collapse of regional boundaries as distance is no longer seen as a barrier.
Major shifts in the economy and technology are driving the acceptance of regular air commuting. While much of the country has seen job loss, New York City is still full of high paying jobs. The cost of living in the City remains high, however, and, more importantly, home values elsewhere have fallen to the extent that many families that might have moved are stuck with homes they can't sell. Job insecurity is another justification for super-commuting, as families resist uprooting with each job change.
Advances in technology has also enabled air commuting. A variety of communication and social networking devices make it easier to stay connected to friends and family while traveling. Additionally, widespread internet access means people don't have to be at the office to connect to work. Super-commuter, Dave Gustafson, points out that he "never set(s) the ‘Out-of-Office' reply on my email. I'm never really out of the office."
Gustafson describes another benefit of his air commute which points to a shift in our concept of home, office and belonging to a place:
"Because I travel like this I'm not locked into living in a particular area. We're talking about relocating to another part of the country, and I don't have to find a new job, so long as I'm near an airport. We can pick our place."
Thanks to Jessica Brent