Elaine Murakami, Federal Highway Administration and Liang Long, Cambridge Systematics1
About one-quarter of the households in the United States can be characterized as a household of color. Hispanic (all races) households account for 12 percent of households, and African American households account for another 12 percent of all households. This article is limited to four categories of race and Hispanic origin:
Since some workers do not fall into any of these categories, the total includes workers and households that do not fall into any of these four groups. Since some African Americans are also Hispanic, these numbers reflect some double counting (Census Bureau). These tables and charts use the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) for 2007 and 2011, and decennial census for previous years.
Table 1 Total Households by Race and Hispanic Origin
|Households, 2011||Total Households||% of total Households
|Hispanic (all races)||13,637,150||11.9|
Source: 2011 ACS, Tables B25003, and B25003A through B25003I
This article uses proportions (%) and not counts. Census Bureau recommends that the ACS results be used for descriptive statistics like proportions rather than counts.
Race and Hispanic origin have been important variables distinguishing commute travel behavior, and this article examines what changes have occurred between 2000, 2007 and 2011. This is merely an initial glance. Further analyses should include additional variables such as person characteristics, gender and age; household characteristics such as income and household size; and neighborhood characteristics such as population density and transit accessibility.
After a long historic trend of reductions in households without vehicles, recent years indicate that 2007 was the lowest point with less than 9% of households in this category (Figure 1). Since 2007, the share of households without vehicles has risen slightly, so that in 2011, about 9.3 percent of households do not have any vehicle, about 0.5 percent higher than in 2007. The increase of percent of zero-vehicle households may reflect the economic recession starting in 2007. Other effects of the economic recession between 2007 and 2011 include a decrease in the the average vehicles per household from 1.77 to 1.74 , and an increase in the average household size from 2000 to 2011 as many young adults returned to their parents' home to reduce costs.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, households with 3 or more vehicles also peaked in 2007, with more than 20% of households in the category. In 2011, this proportion has dropped to just over 19%.
African-American and Hispanic households are still more likely to be without a vehicle than White, non-Hispanic households, but the gap is closing. As Figure 1 shows, for Hispanic households, the difference with White, non-Hispanic households is closing rapidly. In 1980, nearly 22 percent of Hispanic households had no vehicle, compared to 13 percent for the total population, or difference of 9 percent. By 2007, the difference was reduced to 4 percent (13 percent of Hispanic households and 9 percent for the total population). By 2011, the difference was further reduced to 3.5 percent (12.8 percent of Hispanic households and 9.3 percent for the total population).
For African American households, the difference with White, non-Hispanic households is also closing, but the proportion of households without vehicles continues to be double the rate of the overall population. In 1980, over 32 percent of African American households had no vehicle, compared to 13 percent for the total population. In 2007, nearly 20 percent of African American household had no vehicle, compared to 9 percent for the total population. For 2011, the numbers remain about the same as 2007.
Figure 1 Proportion of Households without Vehicles,1960-2007
Source: ACS PUMS data and Table CP04
Table 2 Number of Vehicles Proportion: 2000, 2005, 2007 and 2011
|U.S. Total||Census 2000
|Average vehicles per household||1.69||1.73||1.77||1.77||1.76||1.76||1.74|
|Average workers per household||1.28||N/A||1.23||1.26||1.21||1.18||1.19|
|Average persons per household||2.59||N/A||2.61||2.62||2.63||2.63||2.64|
Source: ACS Table CP04, Table B25046, Table B08141 and Table B08201
Driving alone remains, by far, the most popular mode to work for all groups. Over 75 percent of all workers said that they usually drove alone to work in 2011. Between 2000 and 2011, nationwide:
Table 3. Means of Transportation to Work: 1990, 2000, 2005, 2007 and 2011
|Mode to WorkU.S. Total||1990
|2000 ACS: C2SS||2005 ACS||2007 ACS||2011 ACS|
|Total Workers (in millions)||115.1||128.3||127.7||133.1||139.3||138.3|
|Work at Home||3.0%||3.3%||3.2%||3.6%||4.1%||4.3%|
Source: April 2009 CTPP Status Report and ACS 2011
For White, non-Hispanic workers, nearly 80 percent of workers usually drive alone. The proportion of workers driving alone is between 66 and 72 percent for the other groups. All people of color, African Americans, Hispanic and Asian workers, are much more likely to use transit to work than White, non-Hispanic workers, and are less likely to work at home. African American workers are four times more likely to use transit (11 percent), compared to White, non-Hispanic workers (3 percent) in 2011.
Across all races, there was a decline in carpooling between 2000 and 2007 and again between 2007 and 2011. Hispanic workers are the most likely to carpool, but the 2011 results reflect a dramatic decline in carpool share from 22.5 percent in 2000 to 17.5 in 2007, and further down to 15.3 percent in 2011. African American workers also revealed a similar decline in carpooling, from 16.0 percent in 2000 to 10.4 percent in 2007, and then 9.8 percent in 2011. As some of the difference may be due to changes in methodology between the ACS and the decennial census "long form", we can estimate that carpooling's share has declined by 6-7 percent for Hispanic workers, and about 5 percent for African American workers between 2000 and 2011.
Across all races, working at home increased between 2000 and 2011. White, non-Hispanics are the most likely to work at home. Except Hispanics, all other race categories increased in the share of workers who worked from home, about 1.2 percent between 2000 and 2011.
Table 4: Means of Transportation by Race and Hispanic: 2000, 2007 and 2011
Hispanic (all races)
|Work at Home||4.3||5.0||2.6||3.7||2.8|
|2007 ACS||Total||White, non-Hispanic||Black||Asian||Hispanic (all races)|
|Work at Home||4.1||4.7||2.2||3.4||2.5|
|2000 Census||Total||White, non-Hispanic||Black||Asian||Hispanic (all races)|
|Work at Home||3.3||3.8||1.5||2.4||1.8|
Figure 2 Means of Transportation: 2007 and 2011
Battelle (2000). Travel Patterns by People of Color. Federal Highway Administration. (accessed April 19, 2013)
Murakami, E. "Households without Vehicles, 2000" in CTPP Status Report, January 2003. (accessed April 19, 2013)
U.S. Census Bureau, Racial and Ethnic Classifications Used in Census 2000 and Beyond, (accessed April 19, 2013)