Census data released Tuesday spotlights a group called “mega commuters,” people who travel 50 or more miles and spend 90 or more minutes getting to work. As city centers get more expensive to live in, it’s reasonable to assume that people with less money will have longer commutes. But for people with really long commutes, the data tell a different story. Here’s what today’s mega commuter is most likely to look like:
1. He’s a man.
Over 70% of “mega” commuters are men, compared with less than 60% of normal commuters.
2. He’s middle-aged.
Just 10.6% of mega commuters are under 30 — 18.1% of normal commuters are.
3. And married.
71.6% of mega commuters are married, compared to just over 60% of other commuters.
4. He has a stay-at-home spouse.
Mega commuters are significantly more likely than normal commuters to have spouses who stay home or work part time. Almost 25% of mega commuters have spouses who don’t work full-time, compared with about 15% of non-megas.
5. He makes a middle income.
Mega commuters are more likely to make between $40,000 and $79,999 than either more or less than that — ordinary commuters are more likely to make less than $40,000. The US median household income from 2007-2011 was $52,762.
6. His house is slightly nicer than average.
The mega commuter’s average property value is $50,184.62, compared with $41,298.32 for normal commuters.
7. But not too nice.
The average mega commuter’s house is still worth significantly less than the national median home value of $186,200.
8. Basically, he’s this guy.
A fifties dad.
The Census Bureau says that the number of very long commutes is increasing — it’s possible that to get reasonably-paying jobs that can support a stay-at-home spouse and decent home, workers now have to travel farther than ever. It’s also possible that it’s very difficult to handle a 90 minute commute unless you have a stay-at-home or part-time working partner. Whatever the case, a look at America’s longest commuters also reveals a sector of American society that looks a lot like a certain version of the past — except for the part where Dad spends three hours of his day on the road and probably can’t be home for dinner.
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