As housing becomes more expensive, and the cost of living between expensive central areas and outlying counties expands, people begin to make decisions on the trade-offs between living farther out (and in larger houses) and commuting longer to their jobs. As housing supply has not caught up with demand in central suburbs and cities, home-seekers have started going further and further away to find affordable homes to purchase in the cities where they live. (For some more in-depth reports on commuting patterns written by my colleague Jordan Levine see this report for Riverside, and the demographics section of this paper on the East Bay.) This corroborated in C.A.R’s price and sales data, and our regional Housing Affordability Index, (which is a mix of income and price data). For examples, increasing prices in the Bay Area and Los Angeles have led to relatively stagnant levels of sales in more central city areas with large price gains, and increased sales and interest in homes in outer counties. This pattern is also seen in simply the sheer amount of vehicle miles traveled by Americans, which has shot past the previous high 2008 levels. So much public data exists on people’s jobs, their commutes, and the places people live. By combining and visualizing this data in different ways, we can understand the patterns of lives, commutes, jobs and ultimately the places that people want to live in where they have to go to work. I wanted to highlight a few fun maps and tools created by the public for these purposes. The ACS Commute Map website offers interactive and animated maps and charts that show the number, distance and areas that people commute to and from their residences every day.
In this example of an animated picture captured of commuters to Los Angeles, we see the proportion and number of people moving from Kern, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura Counties coming to Los Angeles every day for their jobs (we can also see the flows of people within Los Angeles going from their homes to their jobs). The data is at what is called the “Census Tract Level” and the page shows people traveling between 20 to 100 miles. We can also see how commuting to Orange County, where there is a more inter-county north-south commuting (east west inter-city commuting in Los Angeles is probably suppressed from the map. For more on these maps, see this article in CityLab.