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Take the Long Way Home - Commute Times Rise

25 November 2016 | Updated 01 January 1970

The number of employees with daily commutes of two hours or more has shot up by nearly a third (31%) over the past five years, according to new analysis published by the TUC.

The analysis shows that in 2015 3.7 million workers had daily commutes of two hours or longer – an increase of 900,000 since 2010 (2.8 million).

In 2015 one in seven UK employees (14%) travelled two hours or more each day to and from work, compared to one in nine in 2010 (11%).

UK workers spent 10 hours extra, on average, commuting in 2015 than they did in 2010. This is the equivalent of an extra 2.7 minutes per day.

Women have experienced the biggest rise in long commuting.

Men still account for the majority (61%) of those who make work journeys of two hours or more. However, women (+35%) have experienced a sharper rise in long commuting since 2010 than men (+29%).

The TUC says the growth in long commutes in sectors like education (+46%) and health and social care (+26%), where high numbers of women work, may explain this rise.

Health and social workers (376,000), public administration and defence workers (320,000) and retail and wholesale workers (315,000) are the biggest groups commuting for two hours or more.

Finance and insurance staff (29.3%) are most likely to commute for two hours or more, followed by Mining and quarrying workers (28.9%) and information and communication workers (25.5%).

Workers in Northern Ireland (+57%) have experienced the biggest rise in long commuting, followed by the South East (+37%) and the West Midlands (+27%).

London (930,000) has the highest number of employees who make long commutes, followed by the South East (623,000) and the East of England (409,000).

Workers travelling to work by motorcycle (+3 minutes) have seen their daily commute increase the most, followed by taxi-users (+2.8 minutes), cyclists (+2.6 minutes) motorists (+2.2 minutes) and rail commuters (+1 minute).

By contrast, commute times for those using buses (-1 minute) and the London underground (-5 minutes) have fallen.

The TUC believes the increase in travelling times may be explained by stagnant wages combined with soaring rents and high house prices leaving many workers unable to move to areas closer to their jobs; the lack of investment in roads and railways increasing journey times.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “None of us like spending ages getting to and from work. Long commutes eat into our family time and can be bad for our working lives too.

“Employers cannot turn a blind eye to this problem. More home and flexible-working would allow people to cut their commutes and save money."

Work Wise UK Chief Executive Phil Flaxton said: “Long commutes have become a part of the UK’s working culture. The excessive time spent commuting is one of the main factors contributing to work-life balance problems.

“Not only is the amount of time commuting an issue, the 9 to 5 culture with its peak travel times generates congestion on railways, underground and road networks and as a consequence, increases stress for commuters.

“Clearly the government, public transport providers and employers must do more in order to address the major negative impact on the UK’s economy and lost productivity.”

Picture: Long commutes have become the norm

Article written by Cathryn Ellis | Published 25 November 2016


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