2017 Survey Report: Business Commuting In The United States

Using a subset of the more than 2,000,000 business professionals within the Opportunity network, this survey attempts to understand the daily commuting habits of the average American worker.


In 2017, Opportunity, Inc. conducted a survey of commuting habits across the United States. The survey also captured a significant amount of information about American commuters including salary, location, method of travel and reported stress level while commuting. This data set allows us to generate powerful, granular insights into how the American workforce commutes each week and what factors impact that commute.

What We Found

This study compiled data from respondents across the United States and drew an interesting cross section of American commuters. Those polled worked in the Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, Midwest and West, with approximately 60 percent concentrated in the first two regions. The reported salaries of respondents ranged from less than $50,000 a year to over $150,000 a year, with the majority earning between $50,000-$100,000. That figure is generally consistent [1] with national wage data. The survey allows us to draw some interesting conclusions about the modern commuter.

Stressful Commuting Appears To Be A Factor Of Age And Commute Time

As one would imagine, longer commutes are more stressful than shorter commutes. Of the survey pool, the approximately 12 percent that reported their commute was "very stressful" traveled over 60 minutes round trip. However, 15 percent of the pool reported "somewhat stressful" commutes for the same length of time. It is likely that other factors such as traffic conditions could impact stress in conjunction with the time needed to commute. Age is also an interesting factor in terms of stress. While a broad swathe of the pool reported at least some level of stress, 80% of those reporting the highest levels of stress were over 45. Gender did not appear to be a factor in terms of who had a more stressful commute.

Mode of Transportation Consistent Across Regions


The overwhelming majority of respondents drove themselves to work each day. However, there were some interesting insights in the data when we cross-reference with location. While the majority of respondents in each region drove themselves, only those in the Northeast reported ride sharing. It is unclear whether respondents use major ride-sharing apps or some other social networking platform. Ride-sharing companies have spent heavily on social media marketing and other channels to compete but ridership is concentrated in urban areas. In addition, the majority of those that didn't commute or relied on mass transit were also heavily concentrated in the Northeast. In the Southeast and Southwest, the vast majority of respondents drove themselves, suggesting a lack of investment in public transportation reflected [2] in national data.

Most Respondents Work Full-Time


Just over 80 percent of the pool worked 40 or more hours a week, suggesting that most respondents work full-time. The remaining respondents may work part-time in some capacity, whether they are participating in internships or are retired. The majority of those who worked less than a 40-hour work week were in the youngest and oldest age brackets, lending some support to this assessment. The only respondents who reported the highest level of stress during their commute worked 40 or more hours a week, which seems logical. Of those that work less than 40 hours, less than five percent commuted five days a week.

Gender Findings

In terms of gender, answers given regarding most questions remained fairly consistent with the overall gender breakdown of respondents (57% Male vs. 43% Female).  For example, both genders reported a proportionately equal amount of stress levels with regards to their commutes (stressed vs. non stressed).  Additionally, most commute distances were also in line with the overall ratio of male to females responding.  Answers that fell out of line with the gender breakdown included:
  1. 85% of those claiming to use mass transit were Female
  2. 65% of those claiming to drive the longest distances (90+ miles) were Male
  3. 70% of those reporting shorter drive distances (<20 miles) were Female
On a side note, because we the question of both gender and salary, we were able to get a glimpse into pay discrepancies between genders that still exist.  Over 75% of those claiming to earn over six-figures were Male even though only 57% of those surveyed were male.


This data set offers interesting insight into what factors impact commuters in the modern economy. Ride-sharing apps may have significantly impacted the taxi industry but have not meaningfully changed the way American commute. Despite the efforts of many cities to invest in "green" initiatives the vast majority of commuters still drive themselves to work. At a deeper level, the data reflects highly inconsistent government spending on public transit across the United States.

Datasource: Opportunity

Opportunity shall not be held liable for improper or incorrect use of the data described or information contained on these pages. The data, information and related graphics are not legal documents and are not intended to be used as such. Opportunity gives no warranty, express or implied, as to the accuracy, reliability, utility or completeness of this information.

[1] https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/11/24/average-american-household-income/93002252/

[2] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/07/who-relies-on-public-transit-in-the-u-s/