Echoing the work of previous studies, the entirety of the SoCal region is not one that gives commuters a break—and Long Beach, according to the most recent study released, is the tenth-worst city in the nation when it comes to commute times for its citizens.
Using data from two American Community Surveys (2014 and 2018), SmartAsset analyzed six key areas: the average travel time to work in 2018; the change in average travel time from 2014 compared to 2018; the percentage of workers with a commute of over 60 minutes in a city; the change in percentage of workers with a commute of over 60 minutes from 2014 to 2018 in a city; the median income of a city; and the change in median income from 2014 to 2018 in a city.
Long Beach bested its neighbor to the north, Los Angeles—and that should come as no surprise: Los Angeles, being a stronger work center, sees more of its citizens living and working within the city. According to data from the city’s Economic Development office, over 77.2% of Long Beach’s working citizens are employed outside the city.
This echoes broader research compiled by Texas A&M that analyzed large metro areas: It found that the citizens Long Beach-Los Angeles-Anaheim metro spend an average of 119 hours in traffic annually, making it the worst in the entire nation.
Commutes are often not considered on the level that the cost of housing, the salary of a new job, or the amenities of a given living space offer are considered when one chooses where to live, especially in Southern California where commutes are largely “part of the culture” —but the effects of heavy commuting are real.
For example, the Citizens Budget Commission, a group which focuses on affordability in New York City as compared to other cities, released a report that showed that the citizens of Houston, when taking the costs of commuting into account, faced the same economic punch as those in New York City. It was a blow to Houston’s loud self-advertising about affordability as well as a benefit to what many transportation advocates have been saying: Our commutes are not just adding temporal stress but a deep financial stress that we often dismiss as normal instead of questioning the efficiency of public transit systems.
The city’s Economic Development office has been working on shifting the number of commuters in an attempt to keep the workforce living and working within the city through its Blueprint plan. The hope? That encouraging pockets of innovation and entrepreneurship, especially in our city’s most marginalized areas, will slowly decrease the number of workers heading to Los Angeles.
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