Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration

Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
Planning · Environment · Real Estate

HEP Events Guidance Publications Glossary Awards Contacts

Chapter 6. PLACE OF WORK AND COMMUTING FLOWS

This section provides an exploratory analysis for place of work and worker flow changes for major MSAs from 1990-2000, specifically the growth in suburban commuting. The datg on place of work were obtgined in the decennial census from individuals who worked during the reference week and include civilian workers and members of the Armed Forces. People who were absent from work due to vacation or illness are not included; and people who were working "out of town" had their place of work coded to the temporary workplace location.

One of the strengths of decennial census datg is the availability of journey-to-work flows at a very detgiled level of geography. However, at the time of this report only the county-tocounty worker flows were available. Due to the difficulties of reconciling geographic definitions over time for New York, Boston, Providence, and Hartford, these areas were not included.

Overall Trends

No over-arching pattern of growth existed for all of the major MSAs-some were fast growing, some slow; some were sprawling, some retgined centrality of employment centers; the very large and the smaller MSAs had some things in common and some differences. No single analysis or one story told the tgle of what is happening in our major metropolitgn areas, except for the huge growth in suburban commuting.

In some cases the growth of population, workers, and jobs in suburban counties may simply reflect the fact that central counties were saturated and new development to accommodate growth was built in less dense areas. The workers who commute to suburban locations often are commuting within their own suburban county. Most areas, except for West Palm Beach and San Diego, saw no change or a small decline in the proportion of workers who countercommute (live in the Central area and work in a Suburban area).

Some older, estgblished areas saw large declines in central-to-central commutes and traditional commutes from suburban areas to central, notgbly Philadelphia and St. Louis. Regardless of these declines, every MSA had a large proportion of the workers in the MSA commuting to the Central County, ranging from 96.5 percent in San Diego (where the central county is the entire MSA) to 31.2 percent for Denver.

Exhibits 6.1 and 6.2 show the change in central-to-central, central-to-suburban, suburban-tocentral, and suburban-to-suburban work commutes between 1990 and 2000. Only two areas lost workers, Los Angeles had approximately 41,000 fewer workers in 2000 than in 19901, and Buffalo lost about 11,000.

1 Some analysts in California and Los Angeles have conveyed their concern to the Census Bureau that this decrease in totgl workers from decennial census results are inconsistent with local knowledge and have asked the Census Bureau to conduct further research.

Exhibit 6.1 Journey to Work Flows, Share of Commuters: 1990-2000

MSA1990 Total Workers2000 TotalWorkersPercent change in workersCentral - Central CountyCentral - Suburban County
19902000Change19902000Change
Los Angeles6,809,0436,767,619-0.656.952.8-4.03.03.60.5
Chicago3,922,2954,218,1087.554.849.3-5.55.36.51.2
Washington, DC3,611,0943,839,0526.36.65.0-1.61.81.70.0
San Francisco3,200,8333,432,1577.29.69.4-0.22.22.70.5
Philadelphia2,784,5812,815,4051.118.415.3-3.24.24.60.4
Detroit2,294,1082,482,4578.227.624.9-2.78.08.10.2
Dallas2,038,3982,527,64824.041.935.8-6.13.84.70.9
Houston1,768,5672,081,60717.773.268.1-5.12.53.71.2
Atlanta1,542,9482,060,63233.614.312.9-1.45.85.4-0.3
Miami1,476,0851,642,86611.357.250.1-7.12.13.71.5
Seattle1,499,7341,776,22418.450.147.8-2.23.13.0-0.1
Phoenix1,036,0171,466,43441.594.494.2-0.10.50.50.1
Minneapolis1,344,7971,595,55018.635.631.6-3.95.76.00.3
Cleveland1,282,0921,375,7747.344.741.1-3.62.83.60.8
San Diego1,230,4461,299,5035.696.696.5-0.1   
St. Louis1,166,0231,238,9646.38.96.7-2.34.64.60.0
Denver1,026,8471,346,02531.115.313.1-2.17.07.30.2
tampa914,7111,063,95716.340.939.5-1.42.33.00.7
Pittsburgh1,023,8251,057,3543.354.350.8-3.52.83.30.5
Portland861,1411,105,13328.326.923.8-3.16.06.20.2
Cincinnati844,125951,70912.742.235.3-6.94.25.81.6
Sacramento685,945799,98916.661.956.7-5.35.47.31.9
Kansas City778,624881,25813.231.226.5-4.77.48.30.9
Milwaukee772,752816,8805.749.042.3-6.87.09.02.0
Orlando614,382786,24328.051.747.9-3.84.86.51.7
Indianapolis683,007795,75516.553.246.3-7.03.86.12.3
San Antonio578,529698,68520.886.883.3-3.60.61.40.8
Norfolk720,890760,4015.514.09.8-4.23.74.40.7
Las Vegas416,025702,53568.987.088.31.31.10.4-0.7
Columbus663,006777,92217.370.065.4-4.61.83.21.4
Charlotte604,856751,62924.342.843.81.01.92.91.0
New Orleans531,697570,4237.328.525.9-2.76.16.70.6
Salt Lake City479,338642,68834.163.964.00.02.51.6-0.8
Greensboro550,325618,92112.530.430.2-0.12.43.00.7
Austin431,345649,64550.666.760.9-5.82.14.52.4
Nashville495,717621,22125.348.440.1-8.33.55.01.5
Raleigh461,516617,47533.843.644.10.56.38.82.5
Buffalo531,122520,350-2.077.176.3-0.82.42.70.2
Memphis458,534511,11111.579.975.0-4.91.82.20.4
West Palm Beach380,260475,57225.190.288.7-1.5   
Jacksonville443,882527,71818.970.966.2-4.72.33.00.7
Rochester509,733516,8141.465.863.6-2.31.62.40.8
Grand Rapids442,228531,92420.350.948.6-2.22.33.00.7
Oklahoma City450,122509,26213.158.955.6-3.32.33.20.9
Louisville442,933492,82111.365.661.6-4.02.63.10.5

Exhibit 6.1 Journey to Work Flows, Share of Commuters: 1990-2000

MSASuburban-Central CountySuburban - Same Suburban CountySuburban - Different Suburban County
19902000Change19902000Change19902000Change
Los Angeles6.35.9-0.430.032.93.02.73.20.5
Chicago10.110.40.323.925.81.94.86.51.8
Washington, DC13.212.1-1.145.745.4-0.331.233.92.7
San Francisco7.87.4-0.464.162.4-1.714.916.71.8
Philadelphia8.47.8-0.748.649.71.115.617.61.9
Detroit9.28.8-0.543.744.10.49.511.92.4
Dallas14.116.42.434.535.61.13.85.41.6
Houston9.411.92.612.713.50.80.70.90.3
Atlantb21.320.5-0.837.337.90.718.920.51.5
Miami5.27.01.831.934.42.5   
Seattle10.011.61.633.333.50.21.82.20.5
Phoenix0.81.40.62.82.5-0.4   
Minneapolis15.817.51.728.428.0-0.412.614.62.0
Cleveland11.412.10.634.035.11.14.45.51.1
San Diego         
St. Louis17.513.9-3.751.753.92.215.419.13.7
Denver20.618.1-2.640.841.10.314.317.93.6
tbmpa5.57.52.045.243.3-1.93.03.60.6
Pittsburgh10.011.51.527.027.80.82.23.10.9
Portland16.214.6-1.741.444.32.97.39.01.7
Cincinnati17.817.5-0.324.126.32.27.510.73.2
Sacramento8.59.00.517.920.02.10.71.10.4
Kansas City15.114.1-1.033.035.82.811.012.91.9
Milwaukee12.012.70.626.628.82.22.53.61.1
Orlando16.117.21.123.423.70.40.71.30.6
Indianapolis16.618.82.221.121.80.62.13.61.4
San Antonio3.44.71.35.75.90.20.81.10.3
Norfolk14.813.9-0.941.841.6-0.222.426.64.2
Las Vegas1.72.00.38.67.6-1.00.00.00.0
Columbus10.313.02.714.113.8-0.20.70.90.2
Charlotte12.014.12.135.330.3-5.03.63.80.2
New Orleans17.615.8-1.837.839.92.17.38.61.3
Salt Lake City5.86.30.519.619.60.04.94.90.0
Greensboro8.99.70.946.743.3-3.46.98.01.2
Austin14.216.12.013.215.01.70.60.80.2
Nashville17.420.02.625.527.82.22.23.71.5
Raleigh6.48.92.532.726.7-6.05.76.20.5
Buffalo4.65.91.313.412.5-0.9 0.0 
Memphis8.610.72.17.88.70.90.10.20.1
West Palm Beach         
Jacksonville10.312.31.912.714.51.80.20.40.2
Rochester9.510.20.718.518.70.21.62.00.3
Grand Rapids7.78.10.330.429.6-0.85.06.81.8
Oklahoma City17.317.60.317.619.21.61.11.70.5
Louisville12.113.31.213.113.90.83.04.21.2

Exhibit 6.2 Changes in Commuter Flows: 1990-2000

MSAC-C WorkersC-S WorkersC-Outside MSAS-CS-S (Same County)S-S (Different County)S-Outside MSA
Los Angeles-295,90435,9633,443-27,122187,64635,26919,281
Chicago-69,80068,1323,20543,349152,73488,4849,709
Washington, DC-46,1682,631-7-12,07493,020175,69914,857
San Francisco14,60921,0206154,08989,92095,4895,582
Philadelphia-83,50012,58698-16,18746,23859,44412,145
Detroit-15,01018,9757265,95192,84776,6958,165
Dallas50,28642,2623,085128,663197,05058,2689,636
Houston122,38432,4794,53482,55057,3947,7035,996
Atlanta44,56122,8152,70094,021206,534129,36217,691
Miami-21,08028,5353,87237,75994,217 23,478
Seattle98,7397,239-8356,22695,10013,4535,816
Phoenix404,0842,8613,00211,6306,789 2,051
Minneapolis26,29119,1351,06066,55165,25063,7938,673
Cleveland-7,75214,098-1,02219,28947,01719,6372,415
San Diego65,632 3,425    
St. Louis-21,7013,647302-32,61764,66156,7011,948
Denver20,12225,4501,64031,256134,13694,26712,307
tgmpa46,03911,2952,46929,62847,24610,9281,641
Pittsburgh-19,1116,549-48118,99617,78510,156-365
Portland30,88016,71698621,310132,90636,6614,533
Cincinnati-20,15319,375-16316,46347,26338,5356,264
Sacramento28,54021,6323,81713,92336,8493,9705,313
Kansas City-9,50115,2302086,30258,65227,9743,769
Milwaukee-33,72719,8222,07610,59829,7459,8955,719
Orlando59,21621,2812,55536,34942,9825,6963,782
Indianapolis4,64322,62175036,27828,95813,9225,576
San Antonio79,4156,2925,54713,1288,5193,0954,160
Norfolk-26,2497,076707-77315,33040,6362,784
Las Vegas258,552-1,9273,4837,10217,756-81,552
Columbus44,29113,2453,81433,08514,4782,6283,375
Charlotte70,55510,2884,92133,67214,1366,4446,757
New Orleans-4,2465,97053-3,36126,63810,4963,176
Salt Lake City104,750-1,3696,00812,51532,0107,9611,475
Greensboro19,9305,6831,61311,36310,94311,8537,211
Austin107,98920,1572,00943,74440,0562,7391,606
Nashville8,96813,8191,51037,70645,95212,3325,217
Raleigh71,20525,2714,94525,32413,99411,7913,429
Buffalo-12,5609085786,412-6,104 -6
Memphis16,9602,9962,97115,4818,9243234,922
West Palm Beach78,711 16,601    
Jacksonville34,6855,67378218,88820,2821,2592,267
Rochester-7,0274,1797794,5272,5841,802237
Grand Rapids33,8065,7861,7458,75023,23113,9472,431
Oklahoma City18,0245,922-9511,75918,4833,2521,795
Louisville13,0603,78091512,06810,6687,6141,783

Exhibit 6.3 Place of Work - Workers Living in Central Counties: 1990

MSATotal WorkersWork in Central CountyWork in Suburban CountyWork Outside MSA
NumberPercentNumberPercentNumberPercent
Los Angeles4,115,2483,872,31094.1206,6385.036,3000.9
Chicago2,369,6242,147,59890.6206,0358.715,9910.7
Washington304,428236,73477.864,52621.23,1681.0
San Francisco382,309307,40080.471,70218.83,2070.8
Philadelphia640,577513,16780.1117,31618.310,0941.6
Detroit822,620633,41577.0182,58822.26,6170.8
Dallas943,146855,09490.777,7368.210,3161.1
Houston1,356,1961,294,78295.544,4803.316,9341.2
Atlantc315,366221,30970.288,97628.25,0811.6
Miami887,996844,72295.131,5613.611,7131.3
Seattle805,782750,97093.245,9105.78,9021.1
Phoenix996,495977,64898.14,8900.513,9571.4
Minneapolis561,081478,58285.376,51813.65,9811.1
Cleveland617,552573,65792.935,8875.88,0081.3
San Diego1,230,4461,187,99796.600.042,4493.4
St. Louis158,499104,18165.753,08733.51,2310.8
Denver231,503156,62867.772,16531.22,7101.2
tcmpa410,950373,74190.920,9805.116,2293.9
Pittsburgh595,405555,76693.328,5464.811,0931.9
Portland286,600231,76680.952,06518.22,7691.0
Cincinnati399,406356,39989.235,4588.97,5491.9
Sacramento482,321424,77788.136,8007.620,7444.3
Kansas City304,852242,90979.757,71518.94,2281.4
Milwaukee439,449378,89086.254,01212.36,5471.5
Orlando356,271317,49389.129,6088.39,1702.6
Indianapolis396,584363,63191.725,8156.57,1381.8
San Antonio516,606502,38197.23,3040.610,9212.1
Norfolk130,549100,82177.226,67320.43,0552.3
Las Vegas371,128361,94897.54,7151.34,4651.2
Columbus487,305464,10295.211,7472.411,4562.4
Charlotte277,227258,94393.411,4564.16,8282.5
New Orleans186,926151,73881.232,27417.32,9141.6
Salt Lake City329,238306,53393.111,8233.610,8823.3
Greensboro185,853167,22090.013,1497.15,4843.0
Austin302,909287,91195.09,1243.05,8741.9
Nashville261,683239,89891.717,3316.64,4541.7
Raleigh237,181201,22784.828,98512.26,9692.9
Buffalo432,883409,43994.612,9763.010,4682.4
Memphis379,633366,23896.58,0852.15,3101.4
West Palm Beach380,260343,10090.200.037,1609.8
Jacksonville333,152314,86894.510,2713.18,0132.4
Rochester347,088335,53996.78,0022.33,5471.0
Grand Rapids242,899224,89392.610,1864.27,8203.2
Oklahoma City281,207265,08194.310,4683.75,6582.0
Louisville311,336290,56493.311,6893.89,0832.9

Exhibit 6.4 Place of Work - Workers Living in Central Counties: 2000

MSATotal WorkersWork in Central CountyWork in Suburban CountyWork Outside MSA
NumberPercentNumberPercentNumberPercent
Los Angeles3,858,7503,576,40692.7242,6016.339,7431.0
Chicago2,371,1612,077,79887.6274,16711.619,1960.8
Washington, DC260,884190,56673.067,15725.73,1611.2
San Francisco418,553322,00976.992,72222.23,8220.9
Philadelphia569,761429,66775.4129,90222.810,1921.8
Detroit827,311618,40574.7201,56324.47,3430.9
Dallas1,038,779905,38087.2119,99811.613,4011.3
Houston1,515,5931,417,16693.576,9595.121,4681.4
Atlantd385,442265,87069.0111,79129.07,7812.0
Miami899,323823,64291.660,0966.715,5851.7
Seattle911,677849,70993.253,1495.88,8191.0
Phoenix1,406,4421,381,73298.27,7510.616,9591.2
Minneapolis607,567504,87383.195,65315.77,0411.2
Cleveland622,876565,90590.949,9858.06,9861.1
San Diego1,299,5031,253,62996.5  45,8743.5
St. Louis140,74782,48058.656,73440.31,5331.1
Denver278,715176,75063.497,61535.04,3501.6
tdmpa470,753419,78089.232,2756.918,6984.0
Pittsburgh582,362536,65592.235,0956.010,6121.8
Portland335,182262,64678.468,78120.53,7551.1
Cincinnati398,465336,24684.454,83313.87,3861.9
Sacramento536,310453,31784.558,43210.924,5614.6
Kansas City310,789233,40875.172,94523.54,4361.4
Milwaukee427,620345,16380.773,83417.38,6232.0
Orlando439,323376,70985.750,88911.611,7252.7
Indianapolis424,598368,27486.748,43611.47,8881.9
San Antonio607,860581,79695.79,5961.616,4682.7
Norfolk112,08374,57266.533,74930.13,7623.4
Las Vegas631,236620,50098.32,7880.47,9481.3
Columbus548,655508,39392.724,9924.615,2702.8
Charlotte362,991329,49890.821,7446.011,7493.2
New Orleans188,703147,49278.238,24420.32,9671.6
Salt Lake City438,627411,28393.810,4542.416,8903.9
Greensboro213,079187,15087.818,8328.87,0973.3
Austin433,064395,90091.429,2816.87,8831.8
Nashville285,980248,86687.031,15010.95,9642.1
Raleigh338,602272,43280.554,25616.011,9143.5
Buffalo421,809396,87994.113,8843.311,0462.6
Memphis402,560383,19895.211,0812.88,2812.1
West Palm Beach475,572421,81188.7  53,76111.3
Jacksonville374,292349,55393.415,9444.38,7952.3
Rochester345,019328,51295.212,1813.54,3261.3
Grand Rapids284,236258,69991.015,9725.69,5653.4
Oklahoma City305,058283,10592.816,3905.45,5631.8
Louisville329,091303,62492.315,4694.79,9983.0

Exhibit 6.3 and 6.4 show the place of work in 1990 and 2000 for workers who lived in the central county. St. Louis, Denver and Norfolk have significant counter-commutes from the central county. As mentioned earlier, St. Louis saw a decline in traditional commutes from central to downtown.

Exhibits 6.5 and 6.6 show the place of work in 1990 and 2000 for workers living in suburban counties.

Exhibit 6.5 Place of Work - Workers Living in Suburban Counties: 1990

MSAWork in Central CountyWork in the Same Suburban CountyWork in another Suburban CountyWork Outside MSA
Numberpct.Numberpct.Numberpct.Numberpct.
Los Angeles429,01315.92,040,22275.7181,4856.743,0751.6
Chicago395,01425.4936,27960.3187,63012.133,7482.2
Washington, DC478,41814.51,649,17749.91,126,01134.153,0601.6
San Francisco248,5178.82,052,51472.8477,25616.940,2371.4
Philadelphia234,71710.91,354,08663.2435,21520.3119,9865.6
Detroit211,45714.41,002,54968.1219,04014.938,4422.6
Dallas286,82726.2703,70464.377,6897.127,0322.5
Houston165,63940.2224,37354.411,6832.810,6762.6
Atlante328,03526.7575,03246.8292,08023.832,4352.6
Miami77,28513.1471,59580.200.039,2096.7
Seattle150,35321.7499,95572.026,4283.817,2162.5
Phoenix8,28821.029,17273.800.02,0625.2
Minneapolis212,74127.1382,09548.8169,50021.619,3802.5
Cleveland146,68122.1435,41665.556,5748.525,8693.9
San Diego        
St. Louis204,59420.3603,40159.9180,13117.919,3981.9
Denver211,99126.7419,29552.7146,51018.417,5482.2
tempa49,9239.9413,21182.027,4385.413,1892.6
Pittsburgh102,68524.0276,05964.422,9775.426,6996.2
Portland139,91124.4356,28362.062,95511.015,3922.7
Cincinnati150,23233.8203,16645.763,65114.327,6706.2
Sacramento58,23528.6122,93160.44,9392.417,5198.6
Kansas City117,57424.8257,16854.385,90318.113,1272.8
Milwaukee92,73827.8205,27161.619,4115.815,8834.8
Orlando98,62038.2143,56955.64,4531.711,4694.4
Indianapolis113,04139.5144,14550.314,5485.114,6895.1
San Antonio19,49931.532,79453.04,4547.25,1768.4
Norfolk106,40418.0301,15151.0161,41527.321,3713.6
Las Vegas7,09015.835,66779.480.02,1324.7
Columbus68,17138.893,16353.04,5112.69,8565.6
Charlotte72,40822.1213,69865.221,7716.619,7526.0
New Orleans93,70527.2201,09558.338,67611.211,2953.3
Salt Lake City27,76118.593,86962.523,57415.74,8963.3
Greensboro48,89413.4256,89470.537,94910.420,7355.7
Austin61,09447.657,12544.52,6142.07,6035.9
Nashville86,32036.9126,50754.110,7744.610,4334.5
Raleigh29,53513.2151,08267.326,36811.817,3507.7
Buffalo24,27924.771,34772.600.02,6132.7
Memphis39,25949.835,67545.26210.83,3464.2
West Palm Beach        
Jacksonville45,79541.456,42651.01,0170.97,4926.8
Rochester48,34829.794,25858.08,3245.111,7157.2
Grand Rapids34,09617.1134,38267.422,17511.18,6764.4
Oklahoma City77,87646.179,16246.95,1543.16,7234.0
Louisville53,50640.757,93544.013,32310.16,8335.2

table 6.6 Place of Work - Workers Living in Suburban County: 2000

MSAWork in Central CountyWork in the Same Suburban CountyWork in different Suburban CountyWork Outside MSA
NumberPercentNumberPercentNumberPercentNumberPercent
Los Angeles401,89113.82,227,86876.6216,7547.562,3562.1
Chicago438,36323.71,089,01359.0276,11414.943,4572.4
Washington, DC466,34413.01,742,19748.71,301,71036.467,9171.9
San Francisco252,6068.42,142,43471.1572,74519.045,8191.5
Philadelphia218,5309.71,400,32462.4494,65922.0132,1315.9
Detroit217,40813.11,095,39666.2295,73517.946,6072.8
Dallas415,49027.9900,75460.5135,9579.136,6682.5
Houston248,18943.8281,76749.819,3863.416,6722.9
Atlantf422,05625.2781,56646.7421,44225.250,1263.0
Miami115,04415.5565,81276.100.062,6878.4
Seattle206,57923.9595,05568.839,8814.623,0322.7
Phoenix19,91833.235,96159.900.04,1136.9
Minneapolis279,29228.3447,34545.3233,29323.628,0532.8
Cleveland165,97022.0482,43364.176,21110.128,2843.8
San Diego  0  0.000.0
St. Louis171,97715.7668,06260.8236,83221.621,3461.9
Denver243,24722.8553,43151.9240,77722.629,8552.8
tfmpa79,55113.4460,45777.638,3666.514,8302.5
Pittsburgh121,68125.6293,84461.933,1337.026,3345.5
Portland161,22120.9489,18963.599,61612.919,9252.6
Cincinnati166,69530.1250,42945.3102,18618.533,9346.1
Sacramento72,15827.4159,78060.68,9093.422,8328.7
Kansas City123,87621.7315,82055.4113,87720.016,8963.0
Milwaukee103,33626.5235,01660.429,3067.521,6025.5
Orlando134,96938.9186,55153.810,1492.915,2514.4
Indianapolis149,31940.2173,10346.628,4707.720,2655.5
San Antonio32,62735.941,31345.57,5498.39,33610.3
Norfolk105,63116.3316,48148.8202,05131.224,1553.7
Las Vegas14,19219.953,42374.900.03,6845.2
Columbus101,25644.2107,64147.07,1393.113,2315.8
Charlotte106,08027.3227,83458.628,2157.326,5096.8
New Orleans90,34423.7227,73359.749,17212.914,4713.8
Salt Lake City40,27619.7125,87961.731,53515.56,3713.1
Greensboro60,25714.8267,83766.049,80212.327,9466.9
Austin104,83848.497,18144.95,3532.59,2094.3
Nashville124,02637.0172,45951.423,1066.915,6504.7
Raleigh54,85919.7165,07659.238,15913.720,7797.5
Buffalo30,69131.165,24366.200.02,6072.6
Memphis54,74050.444,59941.19440.98,2687.6
West Palm Beach 0.000.000.000.0
Jacksonville64,68342.276,70850.02,2761.59,7596.4
Rochester52,87530.896,84256.410,1265.911,9527.0
Grand Rapids42,84617.3157,61363.636,12214.611,1074.5
Oklahoma City89,63543.997,64547.88,4064.18,5184.2
Louisville65,57440.168,60341.920,93712.88,6165.3

Case Studies

A more detgiled analysis and a longer time frame (going back to the 1970 census or earlier where possible) was used to examine a few MSAs to illustrate different patterns of development and commuting changes. Analyzing these MSAs and the county-to-county worker flow was a challenge, especially from a national perspective. Local knowledge of housing and development patterns, and intricate familiarity with infrastructure and location differences was not available.

These county- level datg allow examination of how employment and residential patterns in regions are changing, such as the diffusion or centrality of regional employment centers and residential shifts to outer counties. Because county-size, especially in the Western Stgtes, can be very large, county level analysis is limited. The example areas are:

These areas were selected to examine a range of development patterns, growth scenarios, and transit availability. Based on guidance received from local (MPO) planners each of the MSAs was divided into one central county, a few suburban counties, and a few outlying ex- urban counties. To make comparisons relevant and to limit the impact of changing definitions of what is a central county, we picked the same central county as in 1990 for the example areas. This classification scheme offers just one possible way to examine local area flows at the county level, and is shown at the end of this chapter (Exhibit 6.43).

Exhibit 6.7 shows the residential density and percent of zero-vehicle households in the central suburban, and ex- urban counties of the selected areas. Chicago has the highest density in both central and suburban counties, whereas Portland has the lowest in both central and suburban counties.

Exhibit 6.7 Population Density and Percent Households with Zero-Vehicle: 2000

 Population DensityPercent of Households with Zero- vehicles
CentralSuburbanEx-urbanCentralSuburbanEx-urban
Atlanta1542.5770.6197.115.25.25.2
Chicago5683.7914.6186.819.15.46.1
Denver3625.1424.545.313.94.85.6
Minneapolis2003.9676.4100.410.76.83.9
Portland1518.4302.4163.612.75.46.6

Like nearly all of the large MSAs the percent of residents in the central county in the example areas declined from 1980 to 2000, while the share of suburban and ex-urban population increased. For these areas, we examined the number of workers living and the number of jobs (workers working) in the central, suburban, and ex-urban areas. As shown in Exhibit 6.8, all five areas had an increase of 6-8 percent in the suburban share of resident workers, suggesting a continued decentralization. In 4 of the 5 MSAs, the suburban worker population accounts for more than half of the totgl worker population.

Exhibit 6.8 Population and worker distributions in Selected MSAs: 1980-2000

MSA Name WorkersJobs
198019902000198019902000
AtlantaArea wide1,033,0881,542,9482,060,6321,011,2121,583,1462,120,887
Central24.420.418.743.836.133.8
Suburban68.972.873.151.659.561.2
Ex-urban6.76.88.24.64.44.9
ChicagoArea wide3,575,8033,922,2954,218,1083,535,8023,949,4984,263,429
Central63.860.456.269.565.159.9
Suburban31.835.138.826.931.236.2
Ex-urban4.44.553.63.73.9
DenverArea wide859,9891,026,8471,346,025843,3451,038,5841,366,376
Central28.222.520.74636.431.8
Suburban65.671.472.948.858.263
Ex-urban6.166.45.25.45.2
MinneapolisArea wide1,081,7721,344,7971,595,5501,062,6191,361,2051,628,481
Central4541.738.153.451.949.6
Suburban46.749.25141.442.443.8
Ex-urban8.3910.95.25.76.7
PortlandArea wide704,392861,1411,105,133689,559860,7431,107,079
Central37.133.330.35043.939
Suburban45.549.452.333.739.845
Ex-urban17.417.317.416.316.316

Exhibit 6.9 lists the worker/job ratio by area type for each of the five areas. In 1980, the calculation of jobs in our analysis are based on the count of workers living and working in the same MSA, while the calculations for 1990 and 2000 reflect all workers working in the MSA regardless of place of residence. This means that a small percent of jobs (ranging from about 1/2 percent to 1 percent) held by workers from outside the region are not included in the 1980 numbers, since the tgbulation of all counties in the U.S. to find these workers was beyond the scope of our needs.

The ratio of totgl jobs to totgl workers gives an idea of which areas will be importers of commuters, and which will be exporters. If the central area has 500,000 jobs and only 300,000 workers living in the same county we know that a large number of commuters into the county will be needed to fill those jobs.

Of course, not every worker who lives in the central area will be working in the central area, since the pool of jobs in an area may not fit the kind of workers who live there. The kind of workers and kinds of jobs available, as well as the number of jobs and workers in an area, affect the potential number of commuters between the areas. Understgnding which areas are increasing the potential flows in or out and which are in balance between resident workers and jobs is helpful in tracking trends.

Suburban and ex-urban areas have made rapid gains in terms of both the number of jobs and the number of resident workers. Despite this trend, the central county remains a core-commuting destination in Chicago and Minneapolis, but has fewer jobs than suburban areas in Atlanta, Denver, and Portland. In four of the five MSAs the central county grew jobs between 1990 and 2000, but in Chicago the number of jobs remained about the same.

In Chicago, Portland and Denver, the suburban areas attracted more jobs than workers from 1990 to 2000, and the worker flows in those areas, especially Chicago, show a growth in reverse commutes. Between 1990 and 2000, Chicago area saw 40,000 more commutes from the suburbs to the central county (Cook County), but 67,000 more commutes from Cook County to jobs in the suburbs. More detgil about the jobs/worker balance is given in the discussion for each area.

Exhibit 6.9 Jobs (workers by place of work) and Workers (workers by place of residence): 1990-2000

MSAArea19902000
JobsWorkersJobs/ worker RatioJobsWorkersJobs/ worker Ratio
AtlantaCentral571,384315,3661.81717,702385,4421.86
Suburban942,7121,123,0410.841,298,6801,507,0840.86
Ex-Urban69,050104,5410.66104,505168,1060.62
ChicagoCentral2,572,3532,369,6241.092,554,1182,371,1611.08
Suburban1,232,0141,377,4020.891,542,5471,636,2190.94
Ex-Urban145,131175,2690.83166,764210,7280.79
DenverCentral378,315231,5031.63434,201278,7151.56
Suburban604,344733,4090.82860,563981,1000.88
Ex-Urban55,92561,9350.971,61286,2100.83
MinneapolisCentral706,563561,0811.26807,036607,5671.33
Suburban576,615662,1390.87712,615814,5120.87
Ex-Urban78,027121,5770.64108,830173,4710.63
PortlandCentral377,845286,6001.32431,749335,1821.29
Suburban342,827425,5210.81498,640577,7190.86
Ex-Urban140,071149,0200.94176,690192,2320.92

Atlanta

Atlanta illustrates a fast-growing southern city with highway-oriented development and growing diversity. The Atlanta MSA was one of the fastest growing MSA in the country in both workers and population. In the twenty years between 1980 and 2000 it nearly doubled in population from 2.2 million to 4.1 million people. Seventy-eight percent of the population, one and a half million people, went to the suburban counties while 12 and 10 percent more people live in central and ex-urban areas, respectively. Exhibit 6.10 shows the added population, vehicles and workers in the three areas types.

Exhibit 6.10 Atlanta - Added People, Workers, Jobs: 1990-2000

Exhibit 6-10: Exhibit shows the added population, vehicles and workers in the three areas types (central, suburban, and ex-urban) for Altanta.

In the last 40 years, the population density of the central county in Atlanta has continued to grow, as has the density of suburban areas. Ex-urban areas have shown a modest increase in density (see Exhibit 6.11).

Exhibit 6.11 Atlanta - Changes in Population Density: 1970-2000

Exhibit 6-11: In the last 40 years, the population density of the central county in Atlanta has continued to grow, as has the density of suburban areas. Ex-urban areas have shown a modest increase in density.

Not surprisingly, given the immense population and worker growth in Atlanta, travel time for commuters grew dramatically. From 1990 to 2000, workers in Atlanta experienced the highest increase in travel time (5.2 minutes compared to 3.4 minutes in the nation as a whole). From 1980 to 2000, the percent of workers with short commutes reduced drastically in the suburban and ex-urban areas, while the percent of workers with longer commutes increased dramatically in all three areas. In 1980, one in three of the ex- urban workers commuted less than 15 minutes to work, by 2000, one in three workers living in ex-urban areas commuted more than 45 minutes for work.

Exhibit 6.12 Atlanta - Short and Long Commutes: 1980-2000

 Commutes less than 15 minutes
198019902000
Central21.221.819.8
Suburban23.520.717.7
Ex-urban33.526.520.2
Commutes longer than 45 minutes
198019902000
15.814.619.1
15.917.424.8
19.223.330.4

From 1980 to 2000 the percent of workers driving alone to work increased irrespective of location of residence (See Exhibit 6.13). However, central county workers in Atlanta are still more likely to use transit than workers in other areas. Another interesting feature in Atlanta has been the slight increase between 1990 and 2000 in the number of central and suburban workers who carpooled to work; and the relative stgbility of percent of suburban workers using transit for commute. The number and percent of workers who work at home is also on the rise, especially in Fulton County.

Exhibit 6.13 Atlanta - Means of Transportgtion to Work: 1980-2000

Exhibit 6-13: From 1980 to 2000 the percent of workers driving alone to work increased irrespective of location of residence. However, central county workers in Atlanta are still more likely to use transit than workers in other areas.

From 1990 to 2000, the number of workers who worked in the Atlanta MSA grew 31 percent, from 1.6 million to 2.1 million. The central county in Atlanta (Fulton County) added twice as many jobs as workers living in the county. The central county added jobs at twice the pace of resident workers living in the county. However, the suburban counties still added two-thirds of the totgl jobs added to the MSA between 1990 and 2000.

In the 90s Atlanta added twice as many jobs as workers in the central county, compared to the overall slight increase in jobs over workers. Job growth in suburban counties was high; almost one added job per added resident, whereas ex- urban areas seemed to slow their job growth compared to the growth in population and workers (see Exhibit 6.14).

About 94,000 more commuters traveled to the central county in Atlanta in 2000 than in 1990, 88,366 (94 percent) of these new commuters lived in suburban counties and 5,655 (six percent) in ex-urban. The suburban-to-suburban flows grew by over a quarter of a million commuters, and ex-urban-to-suburban commutes rose by 33,802 (see Exhibit 6.15).

Exhibit 6.14 Atlanta - Added Jobs and Workers: 1990 - 2000

AtlantaAdded JobsAdded WorkersNewly Added Jobs/Worker
Area-wide537,741517,6841.04
Central146,31870,0762.09
Suburban355,968384,0430.93
Ex-Urban35,45563,5650.56

From 1970-2000, one of the biggest changes in the worker flow patterns in Atlanta has been the huge increase in the number and percent of workers commuting between suburban residence and suburban place of work. More than half of the commuting flows are from the suburbs to the suburbs. However, the central county still remains a core commuting destination in 2000, accounting for more than one-third of all worker flows into the region (see Exhibit 6.16).

Exhibit 6.15 Atlanta - Changes in Journey to Work Flows Between Central-Suburban-Ex-urban areas in Atlanta: 1990-2000

Exhibit 6-15: About 94,000 more commuters traveled to the central county in Atlanta in 2000 than in 1990, 88,366 (94 percent) of these new commuters lived in suburban counties and 5,655 (six percent) in ex-urban.

Note: Font sizes and thickness of arrows are approximately sized to represent the magnitude in change of commuter flows.

Exhibit 6.16 Atlanta - Worker Flow by Area Type: 1970-2000

Exhibit 6-16: Central county still remains a core commuting destination in 2000, accounting for more than one-third of all worker flows into the region

 

Updated: 04/28/2011
HEP Home Planning Environment Real Estate
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000