A blog for better streets and public spaces in Portland, Maine.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Survey says...

The Census Bureau's 2008 American Community Survey has been released. Among the findings:

  • The share of workers who drove to work alone has dropped to 75.5% from 76%. This 0.5% drop represents about ten million fewer cars on America's roads during rush hours.
  • The share of households having one car or no car at all rose to 42.2% from 41.8%. That 0.4% increase indicates that about half a million households got rid of at least one car between 2006 and 2008.

USA Today reports on these and other findings from the latest Census research.

UPDATE: I just looked into the Maine data, which is even more striking.

In 2007, 78.3% of Cumberland County's workers commuted to work by driving alone.

In 2008 , though, that figure declined to 75.4% - almost three full percentage points.

Keep in mind that there are substantially fewer workers in Cumberland County this year as well, so these figures understate the actual number of cars that aren't driving during rush hours anymore. The people who are still employed are carpooling and using transit more:
  • The number of carpooling workers in Cumberland County spiked from 8.6% in 2007 to 10.3% in 2008.
  • The number of people using public transportation to get to work in Cumberland County also increased, from 1.1% in 2007 to 1.3% in 2008.
It's impossible to make a solid conclusion from this data alone, but a hypothesis that's at least consistent with this information is that workers who have better access to transit options are also more resilient against unemployement. If you live in-town, near a bus route or near other coworkers, you're also more likely to live close to a greater number of job opportunities. Conversely, workers who live out in the boondocks, and are saddled with high transportation costs, face a steeper battle in finding new jobs.

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