For many, the daily commute to work is an unavoidable reality. Remote work is certainly on the rise but the majority of working Americans still take some form of transportation to their workplace each day. Regardless of whether you’re using a car, a train, or otherwise, you’re spending a significant amount of time in transit if you have a commute.
At Sky Blue Credit our goal is to help our customers improve their credit. For many people, the first step in the credit repair process is an honest evaluation of
their personal finance habits. How much time do you spend traveling to and from work? Have you ever thought about the true cost of your commute?
We looked at how the length and opportunity cost of each state’s average drive to work varies across the country. It turns out that not all commutes are created equal — people in some states have a much longer trek than others. See how your commute compares.
We have also shared our four favorite ideas on the amazing opportunities commuting time offers, distilled from 30 years of discussions with customers; ideas that just might propel you to ever higher levels of income and personal satisfaction.
Table of Contents
- The Time Cost of 1 Year of Commuting in Every State
- The Opportunity Cost of 1 Year of Commuting in Every State
- The Cost of 1 Year of Commuting in Every State (Detailed Breakdown)
- The Cost of 10 Years of Commuting in Every State (Detailed Breakdown)
- Our Four Favorite Commuting Ideas
The Time Cost of 1 Year of Commuting in Every State
First, we looked at the time cost of one year’s worth of commuting for each state. It turns out that the average person in all 50 states and Washington, DC spends at least 6 days in transit to work over a year. The three states with the longest time spent are New York (11.9 days), Maryland (11.8), and New Jersey (11.4), while those with the shortest are South Dakota (6.1 days), North Dakota (6.2), and Montana (6.4). As one can tell from the map above, there are apparent regional trends in our results. Generally people in the Midwest spend less time making their way to work.
The Opportunity Cost of 1 Year of Commuting in Every State
Next, we looked at the opportunity cost of each state’s commute by figuring out how much money could be theoretically earned during this time. For this we used the federal minimum wage ($7.25). Even the average person in the states with the shortest distance to work could earn over $1,000 per year if they work instead of commuting. South Dakota ($1,068), North Dakota ($1,074), and Montana ($1,118) rank as having the lowest opportunity cost, though residents could still make a considerable amount of money with this time. The states with the highest are again New York ($2,074), Maryland ($2,055), and New Jersey ($1,979).
The Cost of 1 Year of Commuting in Every State
We also wanted to show more detail into our analysis. From this it is apparent how a few extra minutes on a daily commute can add up to hours. Idaho’s average one-way commute is less than 4 minutes longer than South Dakota’s (20.6 and 17.0 minutes, respectively), yet over a year’s time this adds up to an extra 1.3 days worth of time in the car or train.
The Cost of 10 Years of Commuting in Every State
We also wanted to show what these figures look like over a 10 year span. Over this period, people will spend at least 2 months of their life traveling to work, which is worth over $10,000 when you apply what could be earned with the federal minimum wage. The average New Yorker will spend nearly double this amount of time over a 10 year period — a full 119.2 days commuting.
Our Four Favorite Commuting Ideas
Commuting time offers very real opportunities. Here are our top four favorite tips for making the most of the time you spend in transit.
- Audio Books: Easily the top commuting tip mentioned by our customers, audio books can educate and inspire. Is Moby Dick still on your bucket list? Now is the time! How about that sales course you know you should listen to? If you live in Texas, and are an average commuter, you travel 226 hours each year. To put that in perspective, the average college class meets 3 hours per week for 15 weeks, totaling 45 hours. With 226 hours a year of travel time, the sky’s the limit!
- Change Your Travel Schedule: Shorten your commute by missing the rush hour. For some, this might mean leaving just 15 minutes earlier. Some customers have told us that they joined a gym near work, left an hour earlier, thereby skipping rush hour, and getting into the best shape of their life!
- Car Pool: Often mentioned with trepidation, but worth considering! Commuting with coworkers may have it’s pros and cons, but we have gotten positive feedback from customers who have mixed it up by picking one day a week for car pooling, and rotating the driver each week.
- Alternate Methods: Urban commuters are often experts on public transportation, but suburbanites might have alternatives to driving as well. Explore your local bus routes and train stops. Give it a try once or twice. You might find you like it!
We used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey to find the average daily travel time to work for each U.S. state and the District of Columbia. This includes all forms of transportation. We then calculated the time spent assuming a two-way trip on five days out of each week, and expanded this up to 10 years. To find the opportunity cost, we multiplied the number of hours by the federal minimum wage ($7.25).