DENVER (KDVR) — The same workers who can afford to live far from their city jobs are the same workers who stopped commuting entirely once the COVID pandemic hit.
An ApartmentList study analyzed commuter trends in every U.S. metro area using U.S. Census data to measure the change through the 2010s and early 2020s. In particular, the study wanted to track the movement of so-called “super commuters,” or commuters who spend more than 90 minutes one way traveling to work.
There was a sharp decline in the number of super commuters during the pandemic. Between 2010 and 2021, the number of super commuters dropped 4%. It had been growing for a decade. Between 2010 and 2019, the number of these commuters had grown 44%.
In the Denver metro, super commuting shrank as well but not quite as sharply. After growing 44% from 2010 to 2019, long commutes dropped. Between 2010 and 2021, the number of these commuters had risen only 4%.
The sharpest drop is among high earners making $100,000 or more a year. This income bracket, which can both afford to live farther away from urban cores and has a higher likelihood of remote work opportunities, used to be the biggest concentration of super commuters. Now, it’s the smallest.
In Denver, 6.7% of $100,000 plus earners traveled more than 90 minutes to work, the largest share of any income bracket. In 2021, only 1.4% did, which is the smallest share of any income bracket.