The passengers facing the biggest costs do not come from the suburbs of New York or San Francisco. These passengers live 100 km from Washington.
Workers in Charles County, southern Maryland, spent 388 hours – or just under two and a half weeks – on average going back and forth from work in 2017, according to Bloomberg's analysis of US Census data.
Residents of Fauquier County and Stafford County, Virginia, more than 35 miles (35 kilometers) from Washington, face similar displacement costs.
Bloomberg has calculated the opportunity cost of a county resident by converting the hours spent with transport into a dollar value based on the average annual income of a full-time worker. The index also considered the percentage of workers moving before 6 am on the assumption that leaving these hours is undesirable for most and guarantees a higher opportunity cost.
While residents of these counties may decide to move based on a number of factors, they typically have higher-than-average income in the region, according to Brad Hansen, a professor of economics at Mary Washington University in Fredericksburg, Va. hour drive from Washington.
"They find jobs in DC and northern Virginia more attractive, largely because of high incomes, but they find that living in places like Stafford, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania is more attractive because of lower housing prices or they like living in less urban areas "Hansen wrote in an email.
Time Vs. money
How do locals determine if the ride is worth it? They should balance the trade-off between high rents and short trades against low rents and long commutes, according to Ferdinando Monte, an assistant economics professor at Georgetown University.
"You'd like to be near a place that has high wages or amenities, but you do not want to pay the high incomes," Monte said. "Instead of paying for the highest rent, you can pay for it at the time of travel."
Apparently, many workers residing in the San Francisco and New York and New Jersey satellite districts also prefer moving to higher rents, according to the index.
One might ask how the counties of Virginia and Maryland were higher than the counties outside of New York and San Francisco. One reason may be the simple geography – how easy it is for a city to spread or cover a larger area, according to Mount.
For example, San Francisco is hilly and surrounded by water on three sides, which prevents expansion, he said. The Washington area is less inhibited by these factors. In addition, Congress has enacted a law for over 100 years that limits the height of buildings within the city. This kept the D.C horizon low; the urban expansion followed.
Arlington County, Virginia, where Amazon proposed to build its new expansive headquarters, was the lowest among the 14 largest counties in the Greater Washington region. From home to work, local residents spent only 30 minutes on the road – the equivalent of 12% of $ 106,670, the median salary of a full-time worker in the county.
In 2014, the Metrorail system added four new stations in Virginia. Construction is underway for six more stations on an 11-mile stretch that will include a transfer from Washington Dulles International Airport to downtown Washington.
The index shows that some Americans choose long shifts, but there are an increasing number of them working from home. Technological advances and the rise of the "gig economics" allowed work to be done anywhere with Internet access.
The index scored more than 800 counties at the highest displacement cost based on three metrics: the cost of displacement in equivalent dollars, the corresponding percentage of income, and the percentage of the workforce that leaves before 6:00 AM. The three metrics are weighted at 70%, 20% and 10%, respectively. The absolute cost of travel was calculated by converting total local transportation hours to a dollar value based on the average annual income of a full-time employee in the region. The index does not include ancillary costs for transportation and parking.