The Negative Effects of the Nation's Lengthening Commute

The collective amount of time Americans spend commuting is staggering, and it's only growing.

1 minute read

March 2, 2016, 12:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


"The American commute is getting longer," writes Christopher Ingraham to summarize an analysis of U.S. Census data about commuting. But it's not just the trend in commuting that sparks Ingraham's analyisis, it's also the scale. Ingraham does the math:

According to the Census, there were a little over 139 million workers commuting in 2014. At an average of 26 minutes each way to work, five days a week, 50 weeks a year, that works out to something like a total of 1.8 trillion minutes Americans spent commuting in 2014. Or, if you prefer, call it 29.6 billion hours, 1.2 billion days, or a collective 3.4 million years. With that amount of time, we could have built nearly 300 Wikipedias, or built the Great Pyramid of Giza 26 times -- all in 2014 alone.

Ingraham takes a few more cuts at the commuting data from the U.S. Census, noting also that mega-commutes and telecommutes are also growing, and listing some of the negative social and public health outcomes that arise as a result of commuting.  

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