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August 23, 2019

Worcester County's increasing 'super commuters'

Photo | Grant Welker Traffic on I-290 passing through Worcester

Worcester County has nearly 13,000 so-called super commuters — going 90 minutes or more each day to and from work — and their ranks are growing.

Such unenviable workers still make up a small share of the county's workers, at 3.3%, according to a study by the real estate website Apartment List. But their numbers, influenced by a rising number of workers over all, used to make up 2.5% of the workforce, growing 36% from 2009 to 2017, roughly in line with the nation as a whole.

That puts Worcester County at sixth of the 14 Massachusetts counties, and in the upper one-quarter of the nation's 3,100 counties.

Other counties on the edges of Greater Boston, where workers may be traveling longer distances to get to work in or near the city, have higher rates, including Plymouth County, where 5.7% are super commuters, and Essex County, where the rate is 4.2%. Middlesex County's rate is 2.4%, and Suffolk County, which includes Boston, is 2.5%.

Nationally, Apartment List found through its survey the highest super commuting rates on the edges of major metro areas including New York and San Francisco, as well as more rural areas such as Kentucky, Louisiana and West Virginia where workers are more likely to travel greater distances for jobs in coal or oil industries, the website said.

A typical commute for Central Massachusetts workers isn't nearly as long. A Worcester resident has a typical 24-minute commute, and a Worcester metropolitan area commuter a 28-minute trip each way, according to 2017 U.S. Census Bureau estimates. The Massachusetts average is 29 minutes.

Roughly 5% of Massachusetts workers were found by the Census to work from home, but a separate report this spring by Apartment List shows those figures may be outgrowing even those of super commuters.

In the Worcester metro area — which includes Worcester County and Windham County in Connecticut — those saying they work from home jumped by 170%. Super commuters were up 47%. Across the Boston metro area, which includes much of MetroWest in Middlesex County, the rate of those working from home was estimated to rise 91% from 2005 to 2017. The ranks of super commuters rose during the same period by 69%.

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August 23, 2019

Never heard the phrase before, but I'm a reverse Super Commuter - I drive 65 miles and approximately 90 minutes each day each way to get to Worcester to work.


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