The U.S. Census Bureau recently released 2018 commuting data via its OnTheMap website. OnTheMap is a very user-friendly online platform providing data pertaining to local and regional commuting patterns, which expresses numerous trends such as where workers live and work, the direction they travel for work, etc. Again, the data presented in OnTheMap (and herein) were compiled in 2018, and the subsequent COVID-19 pandemic has likely altered some of these commuting patterns to one extent or another.
The figure below provides a holistic overview of commute patterns among workers who resided and were employed within the region, resided in and commuted out of the region, and commuted into the region from outside localities. Of a total of 124,254 workers who either lived and worked within the region, outcommuted, or incommuted, 61,935 (49.8%) resided in and were employed in the region. A total of 24,177 individuals (19.5%) commuted into the region from localities outside of the region, and 38,142 (30.7%) commuted out of the region to other localities for employment.
The following graph illustrates the top 25 localities to which workers residing within the West Piedmont Planning District commuted in 2018. The graph shows that the top five work destinations of commuters who resided in the region included the City of Danville (19.0%), Henry County (12.8%), Franklin County (10.8%), Pittsylvania County (9.0%), and the City of Martinsville (7.1%). This was followed by the City of Roanoke (6.0%) and Patrick County (3.3%). Nearly 62% of workers who resided in the region also worked in the region.
The following graph shows where workers who were employed in the West Piedmont Planning District in 2018 resided at that time; in other words, incommuters to the region. The graph indicates that the greatest share of incommuters comprised those who resided in the region (71.9%); these localities also rounded out the top six localities by share. These six localities are followed by Rockingham County, NC, and the City of Roanoke.
The figure immediately below shows the distance and direction workers who earned $1,250 or less per month traveled for work from within the West Piedmont Planning District in 2018. A maximum income of $1,250 per month equates to no more than $15,000 per year, which encompasses workers falling into the lowest wage bracket within this classification. The figure shows that a significant share of workers falling into this wage bracket travelled to the north, northeast, and east for work. Therefore, it is logical that these employees had been traveling from the region to communities such as Rocky Mount, Roanoke, the Smith Mountain Lake area, perhaps Lynchburg, and Danville. The figure also shows that 17.5 percent of workers who fell into this income bracket traveled at least 25 miles for work.
The figure below shows the distance and direction workers who earned $1,251 to $3,333 per month traveled for work from the West Piedmont Planning District in 2018. The floor of this income bracket regarding annual earnings is $15,012, while the ceiling is $39,996. The figure shows that, like the figure showing commute distance and direction for workers earning a maximum of $1,250 monthly, a significant proportion of workers in this next-higher category also travel in these directions for work. The figure also shows that nearly 15 percent of employees falling into this income bracket traveled at least 25 miles for work.
Sources used to develop and update the data source include Unemployment Insurance Wage Records, the Office of Personnel Management, and the Quarterly Census for Employment and Wages. The OnTheMap tool is available at https://onthemap.ces.census.gov/.
If you are interested in more affordable and environmentally-friendly commute options, or if you are an employer interested in learning about additional commuter options for your associates, please visit www.ridesolutions.org or contact me, Joe Bonanno, at Jbonanno@wppdc.org or at (276) 638-3987.