Mega-Commuting Could Hit Your Wallet Hard

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(SUITLAND, Md.) -- The Census Bureau has dubbed nearly 600,000 workers who have one-way commutes of at least 90 minutes and travel 50 miles or more “mega-commuters” in their annual American Community Survey released Tuesday.

But mega-commuting could be hitting your wallet hard.

“In 2012, the average price of gas was $3.64 per gallon, the highest ever,” Michael Green, an AAA spokesman told ABC News. “If you are a mega-commuter, you are likely paying more on average for gas than ever before.”

At nearly double the national average for a one-way daily commute, all of those extra miles could cost mega-commuters more than just their time.

The average fuel economy of vehicles on the road is 23.5 miles per gallon, according to the Federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics. At this rate, with a 50-mile one-way trek, mega-commuters in 2012 could have paid as much as $155 more per month, or $1,860 a year on gas.

“Keep in mind, the price of gas fluctuates over the course of the year,” Green said. “Commuting costs would differ depending on the time of year, with higher prices in the spring for commuters, but they would suffer less in the winter when they’re lower.”

While the numbers may seem high, they have remained surprisingly stable through the years and are part of a general trend of commuting in America.

“When you look at 60- or 90-minute commute times, for example, there hasn’t been a lot of change, even with data collected back in 1980 and 1990,” Alison Fields, Chief of the Journey to Work and Migration Statistics Branch of the Census Bureau told ABC News. “People may be trying to balance where they want to live with where they want to work.”

The District of Columbia is a frontrunner with an exodus of workers who travel to and from the district.

D.C. leads the nation with 72.4 percent of its workers residing in a different state -- more than triple the level of out-of-state commuters from other states. The district also harbors 25.2 percent of residents who cross state lines to get to work.

By county, the New York City metropolitan area had the three highest volumes of commuters -- with workers leaving the boroughs, each a separate county, where they live to travel to Manhattan.  Los Angeles County to Orange County and vice versa represented the fourth and fifth largest flows of commuters across county lines.

Top 5 Mega County One-Way Commuter Flows by Frequency:

1.   San Bernardino County to Los Angeles County, Calif.

Average Time:   104.2 minutes

Average Distance:   68 miles

2.   Riverside County to Los Angeles County, Calif.

Average Time:   109.3 minutes

Average Distance:   77.4 miles

3.   Suffolk County to New York County, N.Y.

Average Time:   114.2 minutes

Average Distance:   64.5 miles

4.   Fairfield County, Conn. to New York County, N.Y.

Average Time:   104.2 minutes

Average Distance:   60.4 miles

5.   Orange County, N.Y. to New York County, N.Y.

Average Time:   110.7 minutes

Average Distance:   62.3 miles

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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