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NextGen Magazine


Super Commuting Patterns Have Changed in Response to Pandemic

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Jun 7, 2023

GettyImages-1167555913 Car Vehicle Automobile

The COVID-19 pandemic has had many lasting effects on the New York metropolitan region, including on so-called super commuters, Crain’s New York Business reported.

Also known as mega-commuting or extreme commuting, super commuting is generally defined as traveling 90 minutes or more or 50 miles or more to work, one way—or both—by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The phenomenon used to predominate among high earners, but a shift occurred as a result of the pandemic. In 2019, 4.4 percent of U.S. workers earning $100,000 per year or more were super commuters, more than double the rate (2.1 percent) among those earning less than $25,000 annually, Crain’s reported, basing its numbers on Census Bureau data. But from 2019 to 2021, the rate of super commuting among those earning $100,000-plus dropped by half while the rate of super commuting for those earning under $25,000 declined only a bit, to 1.7 percent.

A possible reason why the percentage drop was greater for higher earners is that those in the region’s lowest-income brackets appear to have less or no ability to work remotely.

In the New York City region, about 9 percent of those earning $100,000 or more super commuted in 2019, compared to just 3.8 percent in 2021.  The figure for the lowest earners shifted by just one percentage point , from 5.3 percent in 2019 to 4.3 percent in 2021. There was a similarly small decrease for those earning between $25,000 and $50,000, from 5.7 percent in 2019 to 4 percent in 2021.

Though on the rise for the last decade, super commuting is still not widespread. In 2019, only 3 percent of the U.S. workforce super commuted. That number dropped to 2 percent in 2021, the most recent census data available showed, presumably due to pandemic-induced work trends. The number of super commuters traveling 90 minutes or more fell by 35 percent in that two-year period.