Every year, the U.S. Census Bureau uses the American Community Survey (ACS) to collect data from over 3.5 million households to better understand modern American life. Using over 40 survey questions, the ACS collects information on a variety of factors, including education, occupation, housing, commuting, and ancestry. 

We wondered: now that we’re all back from holiday vacations, just how much of our time do us Americans really spend commuting each year? To find out, we analyzed the commuting data from the 2018 ACS, and the results were more surprising than we thought.

On average, employees in the United States spend 27 minutes commuting one-way, from home to work. That means that, given an average American work week, the total time spent commuting each year is over 9 full, twenty-four hour days.

Considering the same average American receives about 10 days of paid time off each year, that means employees are spending the majority of their paid time off on the road commuting.

To give a fuller picture of the total time spent commuting, we calculated a few other scenarios based on time and distance, too.  

Source: Scoop and 2018 ACS commuting data

As we’ve discussed previously, time spent commuting has a significant impact on employee health and well-being, so it’s important for employers to take a holistic view of their employees’ commute, including how time, distance, and mode all affect job satisfaction, well-being, and retention.

By understanding and managing your employees’ commute, you can mitigate the overall negative impact it has on your workforce. For example,  those who walk or bike and those who carpool, the negative impact all but disappears. 

Take Action

Interested in mitigating attrition risk, boosting employee experience, and providing relief for your organization’s facilities by improving employee commutes? Visit us at takescoop.com/partners to learn more.


Charlie Knuth

Charlie Knuth

Charlie Knuth is Head of Commuter Insights at Scoop, overseeing research into how the commute impacts individuals, businesses, and communities across the country. Outside of the office, you can find him on ski slopes around the world.

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