Getting to work in the morning in Portland is a practice in patience.

New data show the city is becoming a hub of "super commuters"—people who spend more than 90 minutes one way getting to work. Also, record numbers of Portlanders are opting to work from home.

A study by rental search engine Apartment List shows a 68 percent increase in Portland-area super commuters since 2005. That's higher than in Washington, D.C., which saw a 65 percent increase, and Austin, Texas, where super commuters increased 61 percent. But it's less than cities in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the tech boom has far outpaced housing supply.

According to 2017 U.S. Census data, 1.7 percent of Portland workers who drive are super commuters, whereas 8.1 percent of residents who take public transit are super commuters. Looked at another way, over 6,000 Portland workers spend more than 90 minutes on public transit to get to work.

The percentage of the Portland workforce that works from home has also increased 104 percent since 2005. Data from the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis show the state is second only to Colorado for the highest percentage of people who work from home.

State economist Josh Lehner tells WW the changes in commuting patterns are probably due to housing affordability.

"When we break down the super-commuter share by mode of transportation, we see that bus, light-rail and streetcar commuters have a much higher share of super commuters," Lehner says. "This speaks to affordability pushing people far away and potentially inadequate mass transit networks to connect them to their job sites in a timely manner."

(WW Staff)
(WW Staff)