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Economic Underperformance Tied to Bad Commutes

The price of long commutes can't just be measured in lost hours. Income segregation, job sprawl, and the resulting negative feedback on families eats into overall economic and social well-being.
June 30, 2015, 12pm PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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"Working multiple jobs is one way to have less time with your kids; a long commute is another." In this article, Whet Moser explores the economic losses that go hand-in-hand with that social truth. Income segregation and job sprawl are the main challenges. 

The Metropolitan Planning Council's Marisa Novara remarked, "When low-wage workers have to pay a huge amount of their paycheck just to get to work, or when they're located in places that public transit doesn't go, it's not just a detriment to an individual low-wage worker, it actually negatively impacts the whole economy. Higher skill work needs the lower skill work in order to thrive."

Moser pulls from work by the economist Raj Chetty, who concludes that poor access to jobs directly hinders social mobility. "By Chetty's numbers, commute time is up there with the fraction of single parents in terms of correlation [...] But among the factors he did study—family structure, race and income segregation, school quality, social capital—[commute time] doesn't get a lot of attention for its effects on social outcomes."

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Published on Monday, June 22, 2015 in Chicago Magazine
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