The percentage of workers commuting out of state in 2006-2010. For more data on commuting patterns, click on a county.
Source: NJ Spotlight Analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.
More than 6,000 Mercer County residents who work in New York City have been placed in an unenviable class of commuters by U.S. Census officials: They are among the biggest megacommuters in the nation.
The Census Bureau today will release a series of reports on commuting patterns throughout the country, including one on extreme or supercommuting — people who spend at least 90 minutes getting to work everyday by air, rail, bus, car, or some combination. Megacommuters, like those from Mercer who work in Manhattan, are workers who travel more than 50 miles one way as part of their commute.
According to the report “Mega Commuters in the U.S.,” Mercer-to-NYC is one of the 10 biggest megacommutes anywhere in the United States, taking almost 105 minutes to go about 59 miles. New York was the beneficiary of six of the top 10 megacommutes in the period of 2006-2010, which the census used for its analysis. The longest of those, both in time and distance, was from Pennsylvania’s Monroe County 91 miles away and taking more than two hours each way.
“Extreme commuting has been increasing since at least 1990,” wrote the authors of the report, Melanie A. Rapino and Alison K. Fields. “Megacommuters may choose to commute to an onsite location part of the week and work from home other days. Or megacommuters may be a result of the changing employment landscape, meaning workers have to travel further and longer to existing job opportunities.”
They found that less than 1 percent of all commuters, or about 587,000, have megacommutes, while about 5 percent are long. The typical megacommuter, according to the report, is male, over age 30, married, earns a high salary, and has a spouse who does not work and no young children living at home.
While they are not all “mega,” almost 15 percent of New Jerseyans, or more than 570,000 people, had a long commute, defined as at least an hour in length, in 2011, according to another census report. That’s the third-largest percentage in the nation, behind New York and Maryland.
New Jersey also ranked first in the number of workers who travel to another state, with nearly 400,000 commuting to work in New York two years ago. But the Empire State reciprocates about a third as often, with almost 130,000 New Yorkers travelling into New Jersey to work every day, the fourth most common state-to-state commute in the nation. New Jersey-Pennsylvania commutes, and vice-versa, are almost tied at about 120,000 each way, ranking fifth and sixth.
The pattern of out-of-state commuting from New Jersey, using the 2006-2010 data, is clear, with those counties adjoining New York in the north and Pennsylvania in the south having the greatest proportion of workers travelling out of state to their jobs. For instance, almost 1 in 4 Hudson County workers commutes into Manhattan. New York City is also the second-most popular work location, after their home county, for those living in Bergen, Essex, and Middlesex. In South Jersey, more than 10 percent of workers living in Camden and Gloucester counties commute to Philadelphia.
Jersey Shore counties in the south and Sussex County in the extreme north had the lowest rates of workers commuting out of state.
At least a majority of workers in every county have what should be a relatively easy commute, within their county’s borders. Still, the median daily commute time ranges from a low of about 23 minutes for those living in Cape May, at the southern tip of the state, to a high of 40 minutes for those from Sussex, at its northern tip.
With the length of commutes and the advance of technology, it is not surprising that the percentage of people working from home keeps growing. According to another census report being released today, the percentage of people who work at home at least one day a week has risen from 7 percent in 1997 to 9.5 percent in 2010.