The Quite Success: Telecommuting Impact on Transportation and Beyond

The decision to forego the daily commute and work from home might not seem particularly revolutionary, but telecommuting has a positive impact on a surprisingly wide range of issues. Telecommuting may be the most cost effective way to reduce rush-hour traffic and it can even improve how a weary nation copes with disasters, from hurricanes to terrorist attacks. Telecommuting helps improve air quality, highway safety, and even health care as new technology allows top-notch physicians to be (virtually) anywhere. It expands opportunities for the handicapped, conserves energy, and—when used as a substitute for offshore outsourcing—it can help allay globalization fears. It can even make companies more profitable, which is good news for our nation’s managers, many of whom have long been suspicious of telecommuting. Other than driving alone, telecommuting is the only commute mode that has gained market share since 1980. The Census Bureau notes that from 1990 to 2000 the number of those who usually worked at home grew by 23 percent, more than twice the rate of growth of the total labor market. Since 2000, telecommuting has continued to grow in popularity with roughly 4.5 million Americans telecommuting most work days, and roughly 20 million telecommuting for some period at least once per month, and nearly 45 million telecommute at least once per year. And telecommuters drive less than office workers. During the days they telecommute, workers reduce their daily trips by 27 to 51 percent and driving (vehicle miles traveled) by 53 to 77 percent. Although they effectively receive no public subsidies, telecommuters actually outnumber transit commuters in a majority (27 out of 50) of major metropolitan areas (those with populations over 1 million). Telecommuters outnumber transit commuters in places like San Diego, Dallas, and Phoenix. They outnumber transit commuters by more than two to one in places like Raleigh-Durham, Tampa-St. Petersburg, and Nashville. In Oklahoma City telecommuters outnumber transit commuters by nearly five to one. Telecommuters tend to be highly educated and financially well-off. Most of the top telecommuting metropolitan areas tend to be fast-growing regions with high concentrations of technologically savvy workers who feel comfortable using the Internet and other tools common to remote work. Denver, Portland, and San Diego are the top three telecommuting metropolitan areas (as measured by percentage of workforce that telecommutes). Atlanta and Washington, D.C. lead the nation in telecommuting growth, yet every major metropolitan area has experienced strong growth. Many strong social trends suggest that telecommuting will become even more prevalent in the future.

  • Corporate Authors:

    Reason Foundation

    3415 S Sepulveda Boulevard, Suite 400
    Los Angeles, CA  United States  90034
  • Authors:
    • Balaker, Ted
  • Publication Date: 2005-11


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 57p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01055610
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: PS338
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 22 2007 11:02AM