The mean commute time in minutes for workers residing in the City of St. Louis who work outside their home
Black workers have a 22% longer mean commute time than white workers.
A score of 100 represents racial equity, meaning there are no racial disparities in outcomes. The lower the Equity Score, the greater the disparity.
For Commuting Time, a score of 100 — a score reflecting racial equity — would mean black and white workers have the same mean commute time. It is important to note that for this indicator, equity is not our only goal; we also want to improve outcomes for all.
What does this indicator measure?
Commuting Time measures the mean commute time in minutes for workers residing in the City of St. Louis who work outside their home. Workers include those that commute by car, public transit, bike, or on foot. In 2016, the mean commute time for these workers was 23.8 minutes.
Mean commute time in minutes for workers in St. Louis City.
|Mean commute time (in minutes)
|1.217 to 1
Data Source: American Community Survey 1-year PUMS, 2016.
Data Note: PUMS data may differ slightly from estimates on American FactFinder due to differences in sampling. See PUMS technical documentation for more information. The number of sample cases is too small to report reliable estimates for additional racial groups.
What does this analysis mean?
The mean commute time for black workers is 22% longer than for white workers. Black workers experience a mean commute time of 26.4 minutes, while white workers’ mean commute time is 21.7 minutes.
The median commute time for both black and white workers is 20 minutes. While black workers are more likely to commute 15 minutes or less, white workers are more likely to commute 16-30 minutes.
Why does Commuting Time matter?
Commuting Time is an important measure of quality of life for workers and reflects both availability of transit options and access to jobs. City residents are dependent on regional transportation systems. City residents are dependent on regional transportation systems, with 43.3% working outside of city limits. Researchers from Harvard found that "commuting time has emerged as the single strongest factor in the odds of escaping poverty. The longer an average commute in a given county, the worse the chances of low-income families there moving up the ladder." (Chetty & Hendren, 2015). According to the Transportation Equity Caucus, "For many Americans, mobility can make all the difference in their ability to meet basic needs, participate fully in community life, and connect and contribute to our national economy."
St. Louis is praised for its low commute times relative to other cities; however, those benefits are often limited to those with cars. Only a quarter of workers who use public transit report having commutes under 30 minutes.
Which Calls to Action from the Ferguson Commission report are linked with this indicator?
Transportation is a signature priority of the Ferguson Commission to address economic inequality. The Ferguson Commission calls to action related to improving commuting times include:
Questions for further investigation
- Why is there a racial disparity in Commuting Time?
- What can St. Louis do to reduce racial disparities in Commuting Time?
- What initiatives are currently underway to reduce racial disparities in Commuting Time?
How can I learn more about this issue?
The National Equity Atlas has produced a tool that allows you to compare commuting time for a variety of geographies, disaggregated by race. Alex Ihnen of NextSTL has written a history of commuting in St. Louis.