• United States

As telework grows, so does congestion

Sep 14, 20042 mins

* A look at the annual Urban Mobility Report from the Texas Transportation Institute

Now that we’re all back at our desks, let’s look at some work-related studies that piled up about Labor Day. Of course, some of us just pretended to unplug in August, lest we scare the boss with our sloppy workaholism. OK, show of hands: Who lurked in e-mail on vacation? No, wait, better yet, who didn’t? That number’s easier to count.

The number of employed Americans who did any work at home grew 7.5%, from 41.3 million in 2003 to 44.4 million this year, according to the 2004 American Interactive Consumer Survey conducted by The Dieringer Research Group in conjunction with ITAC.

Of course, this is the widest net you can cast, as those 44.4 million people include those who worked at home one day per year. Teleworkers who worked at home during business hours at least one day per month increased only 2.6%, from 23.5 million to 24.1 million. That’s 18.3% of the U.S. adult workforce. Of the 24.1 million, 16.5 million are self-employed.

Midsized businesses saw the biggest growth, with 47% of companies with 100 to 999 employees teleworking. But large companies – those with more than 1,000 employees, saw no increase. More details will be unveiled at ITAC’s annual member meeting next week.

The average commuter in the U.S. lost nearly a full week of his life (46 hours) stuck in congested traffic in 2002, according to the annual Urban Mobility Report recently released by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) at Texas A&M University.

The TTI study ranks regions, cities and states by several measurements, including the annual delay per rush hour, which has grown from 16 to 46 hours since 1982; annual financial cost of traffic congestion, which has gone from $14 billion to $63 billion in the same period; and wasted fuel, totaling 5.6 billion gallons lost to idling engines.

The new study increased the number of urban areas studied from 75 to 85 and includes all those exceeding 500,000 in population.

No surprise, the most congested metropolitan area in the U.S. is Los Angeles, followed by San Francisco; Washington D.C.; Dallas-Fort Worth; and Houston. The biggest increase in congestion occurred in Dallas-Fort Worth, where commuters spent 61 hours stuck in traffic in 2002. TTI offers the print report for sale at its Web site, and has made all the data available for perusing. We’ll dig around and report more findings next week.