Commuting Times to Work in the United States, 1990-2018

New Study Finds That Commuting Times of 30 Minutes or More Are Rising Among U.S. Workers Between 1990 and 2018, With Latinos Being One Of The Most Impacted Groups

NEW YORK, November 8, 2022—A new report published today by the Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies (CLACLS) at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY) shows that the percentage of workers taking 30 minutes or more to commute to work has increased since 1990, with Latino workers experiencing the highest increases.

The report, titled “Commuting Times to Work in the United States, 1990–2018” examines the trends in commuting times among workers in the country focusing on disparities with respect to race and ethnicity, sex, marital status, income, and poverty status.

The percentage of Latinos whose commuting times were between 30 to 60 minutes increased about five percentage points from 16.9% to 22.1% between 1990 and 2018, while the proportion of those taking more than 60 minutes increased from 2.8% to 4.5% in the same period. Conversely, the numbers for Latino workers taking less than 10 minutes decreased from 26.3% to 21.3% and from 53.9% to 52.2% among Latino workers taking between 10 and 30 minutes to commute. Non-Hispanic whites had the highest proportion of people in the shorter commuting times (less than 30 minutes), followed by Latinos, non-Hispanic blacks, and Asians.

“Commuting times are an important measure of how much time people can invest in other activities. Latino workers in the country experienced an increase in commuting times before the COVID-19 pandemic, which in turn affects their work-life balance,” said Dr. Sebastián Villamizar-Santamaría, the author of the report.

Other key findings:

  • Men had higher commuting times than women over the same period, regardless of race and ethnicity. For example, 21.8% of men in 2018 took less than 10 minutes to get to work compared to 25.4% women. In turn, 5.4% of men took more than 60 minutes compared to 3.5% of women in the same commuting category.
  • There were more singles in the shorter commuting times than married people: 34.2% among the former and 29.8% among the latter in 1990, which decreased to 25.8% and 21.8% respectively in 2018. Marital status did not affect the racial and ethnic distribution of commuting times.

  • Income and poverty status did not show a clear trend affecting commuting times beyond the general increase described earlier.

  • Because data during and after the COVID-19 was unavailable at the time of writing the report, it is expected that these numbers would change based on working from home rates.

Contact Sebastián Villamizar-Santamaría, Director of Quantitative Research, for a PDF of the report at

About The Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies

The core mission of CLACLS is to actively support and advance the study of Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latinos in the U.S. in the doctoral programs of The Graduate Center, and to provide opportunities for Latino students at the Ph.D. level. CLACLS’s flagship program is the Latino Data Project, established in 2003 by Laird W. Bergad founding and current CLACLS director. Bergad is a distinguished professor in the Department of Latin American, Puerto Rican, and Latino Studies at Lehman College and with the Ph.D. Program in History at The Graduate Center. The Latino Data Project conducts detailed quantitative research on the Latino population of the United States and New York City metropolitan region, analyzing raw data files produced by the U.S. Census Bureau and other government agencies.

About The Graduate Center, CUNY

The Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY) is a leader in public graduate education devoted to enhancing the public good through pioneering research, serious learning, and reasoned debate. The Graduate Center offers ambitious students more than 40 doctoral and master’s programs of the highest caliber, taught by top faculty from throughout CUNY — the nation’s largest public urban university. Through its nearly 40 centers, institutes, and initiatives, including its Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC), The Graduate Center influences public policy and discourse and shapes innovation. The Graduate Center’s extensive public programs make it a home for culture and conversation.

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