Access to Jobs

Desired Trend


Current Trend

Baseline (2006-2010): 88.0%
Current (2012-2016): 87.3%

Theme Prosperous


Percent of residents living within a reasonable travel time to work

Why is it Important?

In order to have a strong economy and a high quality of life it is important for residents to be able to access jobs within the region. Job access improves when housing for a variety of income levels is located more closely to job centers, and when more transportation options are available to provide efficient connections between home and work. An increase in the proportion of residents who have reasonable travel times1 to work can make the region more attractive to potential employers and workers (boosting the economy), improve environmental quality by reducing distance of travel, and increase social equity by increasing accessibility for all workers. A “reasonable” travel time for those who commute by automobile is considered to be 45 minutes or less. For those that commute by public transportation, a “reasonable” time is considered 60 minutes or less.

How are we Doing?

Most residents in the St. Louis region (87.3 percent) have a reasonable travel time to work in 2012-2016. This is a slight decline from 88.0 percent in 2006-2010. The percent of workers who are considered to have access to jobs who travel by auto, 88.1 percent, is substantially more than those who ride transit, 61.8 percent. From the baseline year (2006-2010) to the current year (2012-2016) the percent of auto commuters with access declined about a half of a percent while the decline for transit commuters was 5.1 percent.

Most workers in the St. Louis region commute by auto (94.2 percent) and another 3.0 percent commute via public transportation. The remaining 3 percent of workers commute by taxicab, motorcycle, bicycle, walked, or other means. While access by all modes is important, auto and public transportation comprise 97 percent of commuters. It is therefore reasonable to look at only these modes. Further, reliable data is not available for other modes.

While this method indicates that workers in the region have good access to their current jobs, it does not provide any reflection of jobs that workers may not have due to low access to potential jobs. Residents who use public transportation have access to fewer jobs than those using a car. For example, some residents in the city of St. Louis can reach nearly all jobs in the region within a 45 minute drive but only about one-third of jobs in the region within 60 minutes by transit.1 A larger percentage of black households (20.9 percent) in the St. Louis region do not have access to a car compared to white households (4.6 percent).

Over 90 percent of commuters in the central counties (city of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and St. Clair County) are considered to have access to their jobs. Just under 90 percent of commuters in St. Charles and Madison counties have access while closer to about three-fourths of commuters in the outlying counties (Franklin, Jefferson, and Monroe) have “reasonable commute times” to their jobs.

About the same percentage of white commuters and black commuters in the St. Louis MSA have under a 45 minute commute (86 percent), by any mode. For the United States as a whole, a slightly larger percentage of white commuters (85 percent) have a commute under 45 minutes than black commuters (81 percent).2 For the most part, there is not much disparity between black and white commuters in the 50 most populous regions. St. Louis ranks about in the middle among the regions, with no disparity. The largest disparity is in New York where 60 percent of black commuters have a commute of less than 45 minutes, compared to 71 percent of white commuters.  


Geographic Level

St. Louis eight county bi-state region, including Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles and St. Louis counties and city of St. Louis in Missouri and Madison, Monroe and St. Clair counties in Illinois. View map.


1“Reasonable travel time” as defined in the State of the System report completed as part of the long-range transportation plan, Connected2045, approved by East-West Gateway Council of Governments in June 2015.  

2U.S. Census Bureau, 2011-2015 American Community Survey, B08303