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S.C. ranks in middle with longest work commute times

S.C. ranks in middle with longest work commute times

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How dramatically (and permanently) the pandemic will shape worker commutes remains to be seen, but initial national research shows a decreased use of public transit, a higher reliance on bicycles, scooters and e-bikes, and decreased travel overall as more people work from home. That could spell good news for the 50% of commuters who characterize their trip to work as stressful.

As Americans reevaluate their relationship with commuting, used data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, released in December 2019, to analyze which states have the roughest rides to work. States along with Washington, D.C., were ranked according to their average one-way commute time to work for workers age 16 and older who don’t work at home, with ties broken by the percentage of workers who commute 60 minutes or more.

South Carolina ranks right in the middle, with the #25 longest average one-way commute time compared to all other states and Washington, D.C., with an average time of 24.6 minutes.

Within South Carolina, Colleton County and Fairfield County have the longest average commute among all counties (31.6 minutes) while Greenwood County has the shortest (21.6 minutes).

Locally, Orangeburg County ranks #12 among the state's counties with the longest commute at 28.5 minutes, 15% above the state average. 13% of people commute over 60 minutes, while 2% commute over 90 minutes.

Calhoun County ranks #10 among the state's counties with the longest commute at 29.2 minutes. 8% of people commute over 60 minutes; 4% commute over 90 minutes.

Bamberg County ranks #20 at 26.1 minutes. 12% of people commute over 60 minutes; 4% commute over 90 minutes.

South Carolina statistics:

  • Average one-way commute time to work: 24.6 minutes (7.5% lower than national average)
  • Driving alone in car, truck, or van: 24.7 minutes
  •  Carpool: 26.5 minutes
  • Public transportation: 37.6 minutes

Counties with the longest average commutes:

1. Colleton County, Fairfield County (31.6 minutes)

2. Marion County (31.5 minutes)

3. Hampton County (31.1 minutes)

Counties with the shortest average commutes:

1. Greenwood County (21.6 minutes)

2. Richland County (21.7 minutes)

3. Horry County (22.3 minutes)

Additional commute characteristics:

  • Workers with commutes over 60 minutes: 6.0% (#30 among states)
  • Workers with commutes over 90 minutes: 1.8% (#34 among states)
  • Workers who commute outside their county of residence: 24.4%
  • Workers who commute outside their state of residence: 5.4%

Nationally, there were 143,148,111 workers aged 16 and older who worked out of the home in 2018. Out of these workers, most drove alone to get to work (80.4%), but some chose to carpool (9.6%) or take public transportation (5.3%). The average one-way travel time to work for Americans is 26.6 minutes, but that number nearly doubles when looking at the average travel time for those who take public transportation, which is 50.1 minutes.

Some American workers (12.5%) are lucky enough to have a commute that only takes 10 minutes or under. Less fortunate are the 9.1% of workers that need at least 60 minutes to get to work, and the 2.8% of them who are super commuters — traveling 90 minutes or more to their jobs.

Multiple studies have found that commuters traveling more than 90 minutes one way have a significantly higher rate of psychosomatic disorders than those with shorter commutes.

The problem has only gotten worse, with the number of commuters with 90-minute, one-way trips to work doubling in one decade from 1990 to 2000. In addition to the mental stress, commuting contributes to climate change, traffic jams, and overall vehicle congestion.


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