Commuting Is a Drag (on the Economy)

And in news you may feel intuitively I present the following article:

“Ron Rogers gets behind the wheel of his Acura Integra before dawn in Brentwood, Calif. His iPod, loaded with stand-up comedy and audio books, is hooked up to the car stereo.

Rogers needs plenty of audio material for his commute: He drives more than 90 miles — roughly two hours each way — from the San Francisco Bay Area to his job as a public relations specialist at a communications technology firm in suburban Sacramento.

Rogers is one of the 3.4 million workers that the Census Bureau has dubbed “extreme commuters.” At least 2 percent of Americans wake up to a commute of 90 minutes or more one way. Not surprisingly, most of these workers live near major metropolitan centers: New York, New Jersey, Maryland, California, and Washington, D.C., have the most workers with extreme commutes.

The number of super-commuters nationwide has skyrocketed 95 percent since 1990, as workers hang on to lucrative jobs in city centers but move farther and farther afield in search of better housing, low crime, and good schools.

Too Much of a Bad Thing

Unfortunately, commuting is a bitter pill that rarely gets easier to swallow. Researchers have found that people have the capacity for “hedonic adaptation” — in laymen’s terms, the ability to adjust to extreme circumstances, both happy and unhappy.

For instance, classic studies of lottery winners and paralyzed accident victims found only small differences in life satisfaction between these groups and control subjects. But certain experiences — living near a noisy highway, for example — become more aggravating over time, something scientists call “sensitization.” Commuting falls into this category.”

Once upon a time I commuted 36 miles each way. It was just peachy. I remember sitting on the 405 for hours. The one thing that it was really good for was people watching. You just never knew what you’d see next.

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