Many of us commute to different locations and localities for work, although following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, even travel has changed, with more workers teleworking, or working at home, than ever before. The U.S. Census Bureau provides very straightforward and easy to interpret information, via its OnTheMap online application, regarding where workers have been commuting to on an annual basis. The most recent data released by the U.S. Census Bureau through this platform is the 2018 annual data, and this blog summarizes that information for the West Piedmont Region.
Perhaps a big question you, the reader, have, is where residents of the West Piedmont Region had been commuting to. The graph directly below shows that the vast majority of individuals in the Region (19.0%), have commuted to the City of Danville, with the next-highest destinations being Henry County (12.8%), Franklin County (10.8%), Pittsylvania County (9.0%), the City of Martinsville (7.1%), and the City of Roanoke (6.0%). Total numbers of out-commuters are also shown in this graph, with 18,996 having commuted to Danville and 5,997 having commuted to the City of Roanoke. The graph shows that many individuals in our region could be classified as “super commuters,” or those commuters employed in a metropolitan area but who live outside of it. The U.S. Census Bureau notes that mega commuters are those who travel at least 50 miles or 90 minutes in one direction for work. Depending on where one lives in our region, “mega commuters” are likely among those commuters shown in the below graph. Certainly those traveling to places such as Richmond, Henrico County, or Chesterfield County, would qualify, though some of them may not commute daily, but perhaps once or twice a week.
The graph that follows illustrates in-commuters, or those who commute into the West Piedmont Planning District from outside localities. As was the case with out-commuters, most “in-commuters” commute from within the Region itself, with the greatest shares originating in Pittsylvania County (19.1%), Henry County (17.3%), the City of Danville (13.3%), and Franklin County (12.4%). While workers commute to the Region from cities such as Roanoke and Lynchburg, these cities’ shares of incommuters to our Region are pale in comparison to those outcommuters traveling to these metros from our Region.
The figure below shows the direction and distance commuters who resided in the West Piedmont Region and who earned $1,250 per month or less, traveled in 2018. The figure shows that most of these employees traveled north, east, or northeast for work, presumably to Roanoke, Lynchburg, Danville/Pittsylvania County, and Martinsville/Henry County. The figure shows that while more than 43 percent of commuters within this income bracket traveled under 10 miles, 35.1 percent traveled at least 25 miles to get to work. The figure shows that a large share of those who commuted this greater distanced traveled northeastward, possibly in the direction of Lynchburg. A salary of $1,250 (maximum) per month equates to just $15,000 per year, which is likely close to the poverty line. Therefore, a greater range of transportation options would almost certainly help workers who fall within this income bracket, and RIDE Solutions could certainly serve as one of those options, particularly for the promotion of carpooling and vanpooling.
The next figure, similar to the figure above, shows commuters with jobs paying $1,251 to $3,333 per month, which equates to $15,012 to $39,996 per year. The share of commuters who fell within this income range and traveled greater than 25 miles for work was 29.5 percent. As is the case with the commuters earning $1,250 per month or less, carpools, vanpools, transit, and other means of transportation may be beneficial to those who fall into this income bracket as well. The greatest shares of commuters appear to have been traveling to the north, northeast, and east, with a relatively large share of those commuting more than 50 miles traveling to the northeast – again, possibly toward the Lynchburg area.
Where are the jobs in the West Piedmont Region that pay $15,000 per year or less? The graph below gives us some insight into this, and according to this figure, 6,519 lived in Pittsylvania County, 5,535 lived in Henry County, 5,349 resided in Franklin County, and 5,268 resided in Danville. The City of Martinsville and Patrick County had the lowest number of jobs in this bracket for the region.
The graph below shows the localities in the West Piedmont Planning District within which can be found the greatest number of jobs which paid between $1,251 and $3,333 per month in 2018. Like the graph above, Pittsylvania County, Henry County, Franklin County, and the City of Danville represented the locations of most of these jobs.
Finally, the figure below shows where the West Piedmont Planning District’s jobs were located in 2018. Not surprisingly, the greatest shares of employment could be found in and around the region’s population centers as well as along its major transportation corridors. In the City of Danville, the major employers consist of manufacturers in various parts of the City, less concentrated and diverse areas of employment can be found in the Downtown/River District area as well as in the retail service area in the City’s northwestern section. Pittsylvania County’s employment appears to be located primarily along the U.S. Route 29 corridor. In Martinsville, employment appears to be situated almost uniformly throughout much of the commercial part of the city, consisting of uptown and along the Commonwealth Boulevard corridor. In Henry County, most of the employment has been concentrated in certain centers, such as the Patriot Centre Industrial Park, the Martinsville Industrial Park, Patrick Henry Community College, and other areas. In Franklin County, employment has been concentrated in and around the Town of Rocky Mount, in Ferrum (mostly Ferrum College), and in the Westlake Corner area of the County. Lastly, in Patrick County, employment has been concentrated in and around the Stuart area, with some additional employment scattered at intervals along the U.S. Route 58 corridor.
If you commute to work via a mode of travel that does not consist of driving alone, whether it is via carpool, transit, bicycle, walking, or perhaps telework, you can earn points toward great rewards every time you log such a trip or a telework session into the RIDE Solutions app. Rewards consist of discounts on dining, shopping, or entertainment, or chances to enter raffles to win great prizes such as gift cards. If you have not yet downloaded the RIDE Solutions app, you can download it today for free at www.ridesolutions.org!
Perhaps you are an employer or are employed in human resources and are trying to find additional transportation options for your workers. RIDE Solutions is a great place to start, and we can work with you to develop transportation solutions to equip your workforce with more transportation options, whether it’s a coordinated carpool program, a vanpool startup, identification of potential transit options, or telework resources. Please visit www.ridesolutions.org, or contact me, Joe Bonanno, at Jbonanno@wppdc.org or (276) 638-3987.