There’s a good reason New Yorkers are percieved as grumpy and always in a hurry.
A New York City resident with a full-time job spends more hours a week in the rat race than workers in other large U.S. cities, notching more than six hours of commuting a week, according to a report from City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
The travel time means New Yorkers spend 49 hours outside the home during the week, the highest in the nation, though employees in other cities may actually work for more hours.
“We’re the only city where the average commute exceeds six hours,” Stringer said.
In Los Angeles, the average workweek lasts 42 hours, but the commute averages to 4 hours, 38 minutes a week; Chicagoans travel 5 hours, 25 minutes on top of a 42 hours, 36 minutes workweek.
Stringer’s report, called “The Hardest Working Cities,” details hours spent at work and commuting by mode of travel and profession using 2013 American Community Survey federal data.
The average full-time employee here — working from home not included — spends six hours and 42 minutes commuting.
The subway is the workhorse of the transportation network, carrying nearly 1.5 million full-time city workers, according to the report. These workers spend seven hours, 51 minutes a week riding the train.
But train commuters have it relatively easier than those who have to rely on other transportation options if, for instance, they live and work in the outer boroughs and cannot use the Manhattan-centric subway.
Those who primarily use the ferry, like Staten Islanders who often have the longest commute times in the nation, spend 11 hours a week traveling to work. Bus riders carry a small share of the city’s workforce, but those commuters spend more than eight hours of their week en route.
“When jobs are growing outside one central place, more and more people, unless they get up and move, have to travel longer distances and go places the transit system wasn’t designed to bring them,” said David Giles, research director at the Center for an Urban Future.
There has been job growth in the home health care and nursing field, education, and retail and hospitality. These workers in New York have longer total work weeks than other cities. For instance, a home health aide in New York spends 48 hours, 46 minutes working and commuting, compared to an average 45 hours, 8 minutes elsewhere; a retail sales person has a week that lasts two hours longer than in other large cities.
“Unlike some of the traditional industries in New York City, the mainstays like finance and real estate, those jobs are really spread out,” Giles said.
The report suggests that long commute times also affect women with children, whose labor participation rate is 3 percentage-points lower than the average of 29 big U.S. cities.
“You can’t get home in time to get to the day care center,” Stringer said. “There is a correlation between long commutes and parent participation.”
Longer New York commuting times, the report points out, cut into the premium workers in the city get in their paychecks because of the high cost of living here. The report says the average full-time city worker makes 16% more than in the other 29 big cities. “The actual wage premium [is] closer to 11%,” the report says.
Stringer said the report is a call to improve the existing transit system as subway delays pile up from broken equipment, malfunctioning train cars and overcrowding. The MTA, meanwhile, has been trying to push state lawmakers about fully funding its $32 billion plan to keep the system in good working order and facilitate upgrades for better service.
“Capital investment in mass transit is something everyone is concerned about,” Stringer said. “This report showcases there’s a reason why we’re the hardest working city and transportation looms large if we’re going to maintain our competitive edge. “