New Yorkers are winning the rat race of commute times. They work longer hours and spend more time getting to and from work than workers in any other U.S. city, according to a new report from the office of the comptroller.
They spend an average of six hours and 42 minutes per week getting to and from work, on top of two more hours on the clock than the average–adding up to a 49-hour workweek. Workers in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. follow at nearly 48.5 hours total.
“New York is America’s hardest working city, but it’s a one-two punch for lower wage workers, who get paid less and travel longer to get to work,” comptroller Scott M. Stringer said. “This means employees in the Big Apple get paid less than it appears on an hourly basis, because their commutes are significantly greater than anyone else in the country.”
Hit hardest by long commutes are the lowest-paid employees: Security guards, service industry, and home health workers spend the most time getting to work. “While employees in higher paid sectors can afford to live closer to the city’s core in areas well-served by mass transit, lower-wage workers increasingly live in neighborhoods outside the city’s job core–-forcing them to spend more time commuting and less time with family,” the report notes. Chief executives, taxi drivers, and physicians and surgeons report the shortest commutes.
New York’s full-time workers earn 16% more than the national average, but for these lower-income professions, their wage premium goes down when an unpaid commute takes such a large bite of their time.
Also interesting to note is the city’s significantly lower percentage of women with children in the workforce, at 3% less than the average of the other 29 cities in the study. Fewer working mothers in NYC work part-time, and aren’t afforded any more scheduling or work-from-home flexibility, despite the demanding commute times. “We need to give New Yorkers a 21st century transit system and better utilize women’s skills so that they don’t have to choose between work and family,” Stringer said.
The track to commute-hell is paved with good intentions: “Capital improvements to the transit system should help to reduce commute times,” the report says. With a $15 billion deficit in the MTA’s current Capital Plan, the transit system “should ensure that the investments it makes are those that bring the most value to the system’s structural integrity.” Small condolence, while you’re wasting away on a L train platform.