North Carolina Counties with The Best and Worst Commute Times


How dramatically (and permanently) the pandemic will shape worker commutes remains to be seen, but initial research shows a decreased use of public transit, a higher reliance on bicycles, scooters, and e-bikes, and decreased travel overall as more people work from home. That could spell good news for the 50% of commuters who characterize their trip to work as stressful.

As Americans reevaluate their relationship with commuting, Red Ventures used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, released in December 2019, to analyze which states have the roughest rides to work. States along with Washington D.C. were ranked according to their average one-way commute time to work for workers age 16 and older who don’t work at home, with ties broken by the percentage of workers who commute 60 minutes or more.

North Carolina has the #23 shortest average one-way commute time compared to all other states and Washington D.C., with an average time of 24.5 minutes. Within North Carolina, Currituck County has the longest average commute among all counties (37.2 minutes) while Swain County has the shortest (18.1 minutes).

North Carolina statistics:

– Average one-way commute time to work: 24.5 minutes (7.9% lower than national average)
— Driving alone in car, truck, or van: 24.2 minutes
— Carpool: 26.7 minutes
— Public transportation: 41.4 minutes
– Counties with the longest average commutes:
— #1: Currituck County (37.2 minutes)
— #2: Gates County (37.1 minutes)
— #3: Franklin County, Camden County (32.8 minutes)
– Counties with the shortest average commutes:
— #1: Swain County (18.1 minutes)
— #2: Jackson County (19.9 minutes)
— #3: Buncombe County (20.1 minutes)
– Additional commute characteristics:
— Workers with commutes over 60 minutes: 6.1% (#29 among states)
— Workers with commutes over 90 minutes: 1.9% (#26 among states)
— Workers who commute outside their county of residence: 26.1%
— Workers who commute outside their state of residence: 2.6%

Nationally, there were 143,148,111 workers aged 16 and older who worked out of the home in 2018. Out of these workers, most drove alone to get to work (80.4%), but some chose to carpool (9.6%) or take public transportation (5.3%). The average one-way travel time to work for Americans is 26.6 minutes, but that number nearly doubles when looking at the average travel time for those who take public transportation, which is 50.1 minutes.

Some American workers (12.5%) are lucky enough to have a commute that only takes 10 minutes or under. Less fortunate are the 9.1% of workers that need at least 60 minutes to get to work, and the 2.8% of them who are super commuters—traveling 90 minutes or more to their jobs.

If you’re looking for a long commute time, you might want to check out Currituck County and Gates County. Currituck is ranked as having the longest commute time in North Carolina and the 44th longest in America at 37.2 minutes on average, and Gates is ranked as having the second longest in NC and the 46th in America at 37.1 minutes.

North Carolina by county heatmap:

U.S. by state heatmap

U.S. by county heatmap

U.S. by county table