New Jersey Commuting is the Pits

As if we needed confirmation, the U.S. Census Bureau has released a mountain of data indicating that commuting in New Jersey is terrible.

The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey Report focuses on two primary aspects of the average citizen’s trip to work: The percentage of commuters with “long commutes” (defined as 60 minutes or more), and the percentage of workers who leave their home state for their job.

New Jersey is among the national leaders in both categories. While New York has the highest rate of long commutes, it is followed closely by Maryland and New Jersey. In the Garden State, 14.6 percent of workers have an average commute of 60 minutes or longer. This is well above the national average of 8.1 percent with long commutes. (The national average commuting time is 25.5 minutes.)

New Jersey also has the fifth-most commuters leaving the state to work, primarily in either New York or Pennsylvania. Not surprisingly, the number of commuters leaving the state mirrors the percentage of workers with long commutes—14 percent. All told, approximately half a million people commute to the New York City or Philadelphia metro areas on a daily basis.

New Jersey’s commuting woes are mainly the result of our proximity to the large metro areas to our north and south, as well as our economic interconnectedness. The report refers to these unique relationships as “reciprocal residence-to-workplace ties”—which are especially pronounced in the NYC-NJ-Philadelphia corridor.

So, the next time you get angry about your commute, you can blame the historical accident that placed New Jersey between two major metropolitan areas. Then again, it might be why you live here in the first place.

For those looking for silver linings, just hope you never fall into the 2.5 percent of American workers who experience “extreme commutes”—categorized by an average home-to-work travel time of 90 minutes or more.

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