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Long drive to work? You’re not alone as Modesto commute times rank No. 2 in nation

This Central Valley city has some of the nation’s longest commutes. See what it’s like

Bruce Simmons describes his long commute on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. Simmons drives four days a week from the Central Valley on Highway 152 to Gilroy, where he catches a train to his job in Menlo Park.
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Bruce Simmons describes his long commute on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. Simmons drives four days a week from the Central Valley on Highway 152 to Gilroy, where he catches a train to his job in Menlo Park.

More Modesto workers commute long hours to their jobs than almost any other place in the nation, a new study has found.

The percentage of “super commuters” — those who travel more than 90 minutes each way to work — in the Modesto area is second highest in the country, according to a new study released this week by Apartment List. The numbers, based on Census data, show 8.7 percent of Modesto’s full-time workforce travels more than 3 hours to-and-from work daily.

The nearby Stockton-Lodi metro area ranked first, with 11.2 percent of its full-time workforce super commuting. The Apartment List said the drawing power of the Bay Area’s employment market, coupled with the area’s tight housing market, help explain the valley’s back-to-back No. 1 and 2 rankings.

“As jobs continue to grow but housing supply remains constrained, these areas have grown unaffordable even to many with six-figure salaries. This leads to an increase in super commuters as these workers find themselves needing to move further and further from the urban core in order to afford the type of housing they desire. Perhaps no part of the country demonstrates this trend more clearly than the San Francisco Bay Area,” according to the report.

Since 2005, the number of super commuters in Modesto had increased by 79 percent in 2017, according to the study. While across the United States during that same time, the number of super commuters increased by 31.7 percent.

Rounding out the Top 10 metro areas for super commuters behind Stockton and Modesto were:

Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario in Southern California at 7.7 percent

New York-Newark-Jersey City at 7.2 percent

Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk in Connecticut at 7.1 percent

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward at 4.8 percent

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria in the D.C. area at 4.8 percent

Baltimore-Columbia-Towson in Maryland at 4.5 percent

Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton in the Pennsylvania-New Jersey area at 4 percent

Boston-Cambridge-Newton at 3.7 percent.

The reason local residents seem to put up with the long commutes is also simple: money. Modesto-area super commuters earned some $20,000 more per year than their shorter commuting counterparts. The median income for normal commuters in Modesto is $43,250 and $63,000 for super commuters.

Yet, while Modesto workers are seeing longer commutes, they’re lagging behind on another national employment trend — working remotely. Across the country the remote worker population has grown 76 percent since 2001. In Modesto it has increased from 2.7 percent of the full-time workforce in 2005 to 4.6 percent in 2017.

Also bucking national trends locally, remote workers in Modesto tend to make less than their national counterparts. In the Modesto metro area the study said remote workers make a median income of $40,000. Raleigh, North Carolina, ranked No. 1 for percentage of remote workers,at 8.7 percent, and their median income was $89,000.

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