For many Americans, commuting to work is part of their everyday life. The most recent data show the average American commuter spends around 25.6 minutes on the way to work each day. However, recent events like the COVID-19 pandemic have changed Americans’ commuting and working habits. For instance, data from the Bureau of Transportation show that working from home jumped during the pandemic and remains popular, reducing the number of commuters on the road.

What percentage of Americans commute to work?

Commuting still remains common among Americans, even after COVID-19 disrupted work life throughout the country. The most recent data from 2022 shows nearly 76 percent of workers commute daily. It is worth noting, however, that working from home has become a more popular option in recent years.

Unlike during the pandemic, more workers now have the option to work remotely. For example, in 2019, only 5 percent of workers worked from home. That portion rose during the pandemic to nearly 18 percent, but even as work life has fallen into a post-pandemic groove, over 15 percent of workers choose to work from home.

To understand how commuting has changed in recent years, we pulled some commuting statistics to illustrate the current state of commuting in the U.S.

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US commuting facts and statistics
Here are some interesting findings about commuting in the U.S.:
  • In 2021, 7.7 percent of American workers reported driving at least an hour each way for their daily commute, down from almost 10 percent in 2019. (U.S. Census)
  • In 2006, the average American traveled 25 minutes to their workplace. Although commute times peaked in 2019 at 27.6 minutes, they have since dropped back down to 25.6 minutes in 2021. (U.S. Census)
  • Workers with the longest average commute times were the most likely to take public transportation. For instance, data show that workers who took the bus to work had an average commute of 46.3 minutes, significantly longer than the national average of 26.7 minutes. (U.S. Census)
  • Although longer commutes became more common starting in 2010, the portion of workers who reported having at least a one-hour commute dropped from its peak of 9.8 percent in 2019 to 7.7 percent in 2021. (U.S. Census)
  • According to a recent report, the portion of workers who rely on public transportation fell from 5 percent in 2019 to 2.5 percent in 2021. (U.S. Census)
  • In 2021, an estimated 2.4 percent of U.S. workers walked to work, while less than 1 percent commuted by bike. (U.S. Census)
  • More than 46 percent of workers reported commuting primarily on the bus in 2019. Fewer people (37.7 percent) said their primary method of commuting was the subway or elevated rail. (U.S. Census)
  • The portion of U.S. workers who commuted to work alone has dropped significantly since the pandemic. In 2019, nearly 76 percent commuted to work alone, while that portion dropped to 67.8 percent in 2021. (U.S. Census)

Average commute time by state

Data show that the average commute time varies between states. New Yorkers have the longest commute, with an average travel time of 33.2 minutes. South Dakotans have the shortest commute, with an average time of 17.4 minutes.

In the table below, you can see the average drive time to work in all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

State Average commute time
Alabama 25.3 minutes
Alaska 19.3 minutes
Arizona 25.5 minutes
Arkansas 22.2 minutes
California 29.2 minutes
Colorado 25.6 minutes
Connecticut 26.4 minutes
Delaware 25.9 minutes
Florida 27.9 minutes
Georgia 28.4 minutes
Hawaii 26.6 minutes
Idaho 21.4 minutes
Illinois 28.4 minutes
Indiana 24 minutes
Iowa 19.6 minutes
Kansas 19.7 minutes
Kentucky 23.9 minutes
Louisiana 26 minutes
Maine 24.4 minutes
Maryland 32 minutes
Massachusetts 29.4 minutes
Michigan 24.5 minutes
Minnesota 23.3 minutes
Mississippi 25.4 minutes
Missouri 23.8 minutes
Montana 18.8 minutes
Nebraska 19.1 minutes
Nevada 24.7 minutes
New Hampshire 27 minutes
New Jersey 31.1 minutes
New Mexico 23.1 minutes
New York 33.2 minutes
North Carolina 25 minutes
North Dakota 17.9 minutes
Ohio 23.6 minutes
Oklahoma 22.3 minutes
Oregon 23.3 minutes
Pennsylvania 26.7 minutes
Puerto Rico 28.6 minutes
Rhode Island 25.3 minutes
South Carolina 25.5 minutes
South Dakota 17.4 minutes
Tennessee 25.5 minutes
Texas 26.6 minutes
Utah 21.9 minutes
Vermont 23.3 minutes
Virginia 27.9 minutes
Washington 27.3 minutes
Washington D.C. 30.5 minutes
West Virginia 26.3 minutes
Wisconsin 22.2 minutes
Wyoming 18 minutes

Means of transportation: how Americans get to work

While the overwhelming number of U.S. commuters drive alone in their cars, almost half of all commuters who use public transit rely on the bus to get to work.

In parts of the country with established metro or subway systems, nearly 37 percent of workers use them to commute. Less common is commuting by long-distance train or light rail since these require workers to travel long distances between connected metros. Less than five percent of U.S. commuters use streetcars, trolleys or ferry boats.

Although driving alone and public transportation account for a large part of how Americans get to work, carpooling is still a popular option, accounting for almost 9 percent of all commuting in the U.S.

How the rise in working from home affects commuting

Commuting statistics show that many Americans are continuing to travel to an office during the work week. According to data from Pew Research, 61 percent of Americans do not have jobs that can be done from home. However, the number of Americans choosing to work from home is still up from the pre-pandemic years and remains steady.

Some companies and workers are finding more flexibility in hybrid schedules. For instance, workers have the ability to telework for part of the week and commute to work at a physical office, workplace or job site for the remainder. Among hybrid workers, most say they would prefer to cut back on the commute and work more from home.

According to a Washington Post-Ipsos poll, 48 percent of respondents said getting rid of the commute is the biggest benefit of working from home. These remote workers might also enjoy the cost savings of having no commute. The World Economic Forum crunched the numbers and found that working from home saved an average of $900 per year on food, over $300 per year on coffee and around $450 on travel costs (using national averages).

Further, Clever Real Estate found that the average U.S. worker spends $8,466 commuting on an annual basis, which is more than $700 per month. This accounts for the cost of gas, car maintenance, income lost due to commuting, car insurance and more.

If you’ve switched to part-time or full-time remote work, you can potentially save money on car insurance. Some car insurance companies will offer you a lower premium if you can prove that you drive less than 8,000 to 10,000 miles per year. Experts recommend gathering quotes from multiple companies to see if you qualify for a more affordable rate.

In addition, some infrequent drivers can get cheaper car insurance by enrolling in a pay-per-mile car insurance policy. With pay-per-mile insurance, your car insurance premium is tied to a base rate and a certain rate for each mile. You pay the premium on a monthly basis that is based on the distance you drive.

Frequently asked questions

    • According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, an estimated 8.6 percent of U.S. workers carpool to work with at least one other person.
    • According to the National Safety Council, the peak time for car accidents is between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., when most Americans are driving from work. Researchers found that the time of accidents shifted later in the day during the spring and summer months. On the other hand, peak crash time is earlier in the winter months.
    • Commuting to work has been repeatedly shown to have a negative impact on mental health. A study of commuters in Latin America found that, with every 10 minutes of commuting, people had a 0.5 percent higher probability of developing depression. In addition, workers who took public transportation to work were found to have a 4.8 percent lower chance of screening positively for depression than people who drove to work.
    • Drivers in the U.S. have an average commute time of 26.7 minutes. Depending on where you’re at in the world, this is a fairly common range. Most of the major European Union countries have an average 30-minute commute time, for instance, while drivers in China have commutes that are closer to an hour.
    • There are numerous factors that car insurance companies use to calculate your car insurance premium, and how much you drive your vehicle is often one of them. Additionally, you may want to consider the total cost of owning a car (not just your commute or its effect on your car insurance) when planning your budget for the year.
    • East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania drivers and commuters in the New York, Newark and New Jersey metro areas have some of the highest commute times in the nation, topping out at around 35 to 36 minutes. Commuters in Great Falls, Montana, Lewiston, Idaho, Manhattan, Kansas and Casper, Wyoming all enjoy low commute times of about 15 to 16 minutes.