Region Sees Changes in Share of People Living and Working in the Same Jurisdiction

Jun 10, 2013

A little over half of the region's working population commutes to jobs in their county of residence, according to a recent Transportation Planning Board analysis of commuting data from 2000 and 2011.

Although that share hasn't changed much in the last decade or so -- nudging downward from 51.7% of workers in 2000 to 51.6% in 2011 -- most of the region's larger jurisdictions saw notable shifts in intra-jurisdictional commuting, whether upward or downward.

Each of the three jurisdictions making up the "regional core" saw increases in the share of people commuting to jobs in their jurisdiction of residence. Arlington saw the biggest increase, moving from 30.2% of workers in 2000 to 33.3% in 2011. Of the 22,000 workers added over that eleven-year timeframe, fully half commute to jobs within the county.

In the District of Columbia, where 73.7% of workers in 2000 commuted to jobs in the District, more than 90% of new workers added between 2000 and 2011 do so, pushing the overall share up to 76.3%.

And in Alexandria, one-third of new workers added between 2000 and 2011 commute to jobs within the city's boundaries, pushing the citywide average up from 25.6% to 26.7%.

Other jurisdictions in the region have also seen increases in the share of residents living and working in the same jurisdiction.

Loudoun County and Prince William County, including the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park, both saw increases of more than one percentage point, together adding about 125,000 new workers. Of those, about 47% commute to jobs within their county of residence.

These positive shifts suggest a move toward a better balance of housing and jobs within traditionally job-heavy areas like the District and Arlington and an increase in the number of job opportunities in traditionally residential areas like Loudoun and Prince William Counties.

In two of the region's other "outer jurisdictions" there were negative shifts, signaling a faster rate of residential growth than job growth.

In Charles County, only 20% of new working residents added between 2000 and 2011 work in the county, pulling the average down from 39.3% to 36.6%. In Frederick County, only 26% of new working residents commute to jobs in the county, pulling the average down from 60.8% to 55.4%.

Finally, the region's inner suburban jurisdictions -- Montgomery, Prince George's, and Fairfax Counties -- saw mixed changes since 2000. Montgomery was the only county of the three to see an increase in the share of residents working within the county, while Prince George's County and Fairfax County, including the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, both saw slight declines.

This latest analysis of commuter patterns sheds light on the relative balance of jobs and housing within each of the region's jurisdictions, which is of great interest to local officials seeking to strengthen their local economies, maximize tax revenues, and provide optimal public services.

The data show that the regional core has moved in the direction of a greater balance of jobs and housing since 2000, and that some suburban jurisdictions have as well, while others continue to attract more residents than jobs.

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