Traffic congestion could cause workers to seek work closer to home

GEL Group, Inc. did a survey of its approximately 200 Charleston-based employees to see how much of a commute they had for work.

GEL President Mac Hodgson said most live about 12 miles away, but 25 percent live more than 18 miles from work.

Hodgson is worried that increased congestion and long commute times could lead to an erosion of work-life balance and could cause some employees to seek work closer to home.

"The region’s added 50,000 jobs since 2010 and has a population growth rate three times faster than the U.S.," Hodgson said in an interview with Palmetto Business Daily. "Median home prices and rental rates have risen at a faster pace than wages, often resulting in employees living farther from their place of work."

Hodgson said data from the Investment Opportunity Study by Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce highlighted that from 2010 to 2016, median home prices rose 27 percent, rental rates rose 49 percent and average wages rose 12 percent.

"In addition to adding unneeded stress and frustration, increasing levels of congestion can negatively impact work-life balance by requiring employees to spend more of their time commuting to and from work," Hodgson said.

Hodgson said a congestion management report from November that was issued by the Charleston Area Transportation Study found that 51 percent of commuters are unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with the time it takes to commute to and from work.

"Further, it reported that 68 percent say traffic and congestion is the region’s No. 1 problem," Hodgson said. "In extreme cases, increasing cases of congestion could motivate employees to find a job closer to home."

Hodgson cited data on average commute times. 

"The Charleston Metro Chamber reports that the region’s average commute time is approximately 25 minutes," Hodgson said. "We surveyed our local workforce and found that on average, they commute over 12 miles from home to work, with 25 percent of our employees traveling over 18 miles each way."

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