Has Your Commute Become Longer?
by Jeff Pinkerton
Finding jobs close to home has become increasingly difficult in the Kansas City metro according to a report from the Brookings Institute.
Nationwide, the number of jobs within a typical commute distance fell by 7 percent between 2000 and 2012. In Kansas City that number fell by 12 percent. The “typical commute distance” is a calculation that differs for every metro. For Kansas City, the typical one-way commute distance from home to work is 8.9 miles. In 2000, there were 196,478 commuters in the metro who traveled less than 9 miles to work. By 2012, that number had declined to 173,176.
As we might expect, the change was not uniform throughout the region. As more jobs are created in the suburbs, some suburban areas (particularly south and west Johnson County) saw their average commute distances drop. Conversely, commute distances for central city residents (Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas) grew.
Additionally, the drop in short commutes was most pronounced in high-poverty areas. There the number of typical commutes dropped almost 29 percent.
This clearly reflects a long-term trend where more and more jobs are locating in suburban areas. This trend places more demands on our region’s transportation infrastructure. If businesses are going to have access to the workers they need, we will need to figure out more effective ways to connect people to those jobs.