‘Super commuters’ not slowing down in California. Lack of housing to blame

The majority of Californians drive to work, but an increasing number face commutes well over an hour-long to reach jobs in larger cities. For now, at least, the rise of the super commuter is not slowing down, according to an analysis of census data by Apartment List.

In 2017, 41 out of 58 counties saw at least moderate growth in the share of the workforce traveling longer than 90 minutes to get the work compared to 8 years prior.

Contra Costa, Solano, San Benito, Alameda, Merced and Mono counties saw the largest jumps.

More people are driving longer distances due to a lack of housing in dense cities where many would have lived and worked a decade ago, according to Apartment List. Now, many are tied to jobs in those cities but cannot afford to live there.

As a result, more people, particularly in the Bay Area, are driving back and forth.

San Joaquin County leads the state with 8.8 percent of its workforce traveling 90-minute-plus commutes. The national average is 2.9 percent.

In the Sacramento region, El Dorado County had the largest share of super commuters, 4.3 percent.

Apartment List also found that ”super commuting is common in areas closer to the urban core, where workers who rely on public transit may face rides of 90 minutes or more, even if they’re not traveling great distances in terms of mileage.”

In some places, workers who tend to be super commuters also rely on public transit, particularly in counties surrounding New York City.

A significant share of rural residents nationwide may face long commutes as people travel to job centers where industries cluster, like oil drilling on the Gulf Coast and coal mining in the Midwest, the analysis showed.

Construction, mining and oil drilling professions had noticeably higher commutes than most industries.

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Mike Finch joined The Bee in July 2018 as a data reporter after working at newspapers in Alabama and Florida. A Miami native, he has been a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors since 2012 and studied political science at Florida International University.