Washington DC Metro Area Workers Have Longest Commute Times in the US

Yes indeed, – Washington DC Metro Area Workers Have Longest Commute Times in the US — TriNet, a leading cloud-based provider of HR services, today announced the findings of the January issue of its TriNet SMBeat. The SMBeat report is a monthly analysis of small business employment and human capital economic indicators.

January’s report features an in-depth analysis of employee commute times throughout the United States, including both demographic and geographic trends. A key finding of the report is that the Washington, D.C. metro area has the longest commute time across TriNet’s clients, averaging 31.2 minutes. It is followed closely by New York with 30.2 minutes.

Long commute times can be a burden on workers and affect employee happiness and productivity. The length of time an employee spends commuting is impacted by a number of factors. Geographical characteristics like population density cause increased road congestion and subsequently increase commute times. Also, demographic factors such as earnings, marital status and gender contribute to the willingness of employees to spend time getting to work. Employers can alleviate the stress caused by long commute times by offering perks, such as flexible start times, telecommuting, and transit benefits. These perks ultimately impact the bottom line by reducing costs associated with employee turnover and poor employee productivity.

Key findingssourced from TriNets more than 8,800 customers and over 230,000 worksite employees in the U.S.

  • San Diego has the shortest commute time of the analyzed metropolitan areas with 24.7 minutes.
  • The Atlanta, San Francisco Bay and Chicago metro areas have an average one way commute time of 28.7 minutes.
  • Across the TriNet population, income is positively correlated with commute time. Workers that earn less than $50,000 per year commute 27 minutes on average, while those earning more than $250,000 per year commute 31 minutes on average. Populations in certain geographies have a negative correlation. In Los Angeles, lower income workers commute for a longer duration, 22.5 minutes for the higher wage earners versus 45.9 minutes for earners of lower wages.
  • Married workers with growing families often seek larger homes in the suburbs outside of metro areas, adding to their commute time, which is an average of 2.5 minutes longer than single workers.
  • On average, men commute 7% longer than women. We believe the gender salary gap may drive this discrepancy in part due to the correlation between larger incomes and longer commute times.
  • Baby Boomers aged 49 years and older have the longest commute time with an average of 31.3 minutes.
  • Millennials between 22 and 31 years old have on average the lowest salaries and lowest commute times. Research frequently finds work-life balance to be an important factor for Millennials[1]. Shorter commute times can contribute to less daily stress and we believe this age group therefore values them.


In addition to the findings on commute times, SMBeat indicates that 2014 began on a high note with net job growth of 1.26% across TriNet’s clients in January. In addition, growth for the tech sector continued. Nationally, it saw 1.80% net job growth, increasing from last month’s growth of 1.49%. New York continues to lead the tech sector with 2.57% net job growth. New York surpassed Denver-Boulder, Los Angeles and Silicon Valley, which saw 2.46%, 2.40% and 2.09% net job growth, respectively.