We ask questions about where people work, how they get there, when they leave home, and how long it takes, to create statistics about commuting, or a person's journey to work.
Commuting patterns and characteristics are crucial to planning for improvements to road and highway infrastructure, developing transportation plans and services, and understanding where people are traveling in the course of a normal day.
We use your confidential survey answers to create statistics like those in the results below and in the full tables that contain all the data—no one is able to figure out your survey answers from the statistics we produce. The Census Bureau is legally bound to strict confidentiality requirements. Individual records are not shared with anyone, including federal agencies and law enforcement entities. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents' answers with anyone—not the IRS, not the FBI, not the CIA, and not with any other government agency.
We ask five questions about a person's journey to work to create a profile of a community's commuting patterns.
We compile the results from these questions to provide communities with important statistics to help in their transportation and infrastructure planning. You can see some of these published statistics here for the nation, states, and your community.
Local, state, and federal transportation agencies use these statistics to plan programs and services for disabled populations, bicycle commuters, carpools and ride shares. These agencies conduct long-range planning for transportation that rely on travel demand forecasting models. The federal Department of Transportation (DOT) need these statistics to ensure compliance with various regulations, to understand current uses, and forecast future transportation needs throughout the nation.
Understanding commuting patterns and where people work also helps with:
Useful for businesses:
Researchers use these estimates to study the effects of long commutes on health (obesity, hypertension, etc.), and on the environment (emissions, contaminants, etc.).
The question about how people get to work originated with the 1960 Census. The question about where a person worked originated with the 1970 Census The question about how long it took people to get to work originated with the 1980 Census and the time of departure question originated with the 1990 Census. They were transferred to the ACS in 2005 when it replaced the decennial census long form.
The questions about how people get to work and their departure time for work were modified in 2019. Research about this modification and copies of previous questionnaires are available on the ACS website.