Oct 23, 2023 - News

Atlanta workers have slightly shorter commutes

Share of Atlanta area workers by commute time
Data: Census Bureau; Chart: Alice Feng/Axios

The share of Atlanta workers with relatively speedy commutes has slightly increased compared to pre-pandemic times, according to a new Axios analysis of census data.

Why it matters: Quicker commutes are tied to better mental health, greater job satisfaction and several other personal benefits, Alex Fitzpatrick and Alice Feng report.

By the numbers: 17.4% of Atlanta's workers commuted for less than 15 minutes in 2022, up from 15.7% in 2019. So about 432,700 workers had shorter commutes last year.

  • On the flip side, 11.9% of Atlanta's workers recently commuted for an hour or longer, down from 14.2%.

The big picture: Nationally, commutes under 30 minutes became more commonplace during that time period, while those 30 minutes and longer became more rare.

  • 36.8% of U.S. workers had a commute of 15 to 29 minutes in 2022, up from 35.6% in 2019.
  • Another 26% had a commute of less than 15 minutes, up from 24.8%.

Of note: These findings don't include employees who work from home, and thus have a commute time of zero — or maybe a minute or two, if you stop to pour a cup of coffee on your way to your home office setup.

  • Instead, the results are based on the approximately 136.2 million Americans ages 16 and older with non-WFH jobs in 2022.
  • In Atlanta, which has one of the greatest shares of remote workers in the country, the number of employees who commute to work has decreased, from over 2.7 million in 2019 to over 2.4 million last year. But Atlanta's workforce grew by about 200,000 during that time.

Driving the news: There are a handful of potential factors at play here.

  • The "Great Reshuffling" led many Americans to move or find new jobs, and some of those who enjoyed the benefits of pandemic-era remote work decided to prioritize shorter commutes in favor of more personal or family time.
  • Meanwhile, some degree of remote and hybrid work is persisting post-pandemic, leading to fewer cars on the road and thus less traffic and faster commutes.

The bottom line: This data may not jive with your personal experience, as construction and other factors can mess with particular routes — but in the broad sense, more Americans are enjoying faster trips to work.

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