Kansas City’s Killer Commutes: Which Residents Travel the Most to Get to Work?

 Street Sign Highlighting Route 36

Photo: Capt. Spaulding’s World

By John Egan
January 13, 2017

Workers in Caldwell County, MO, spend a lot of time behind the wheel of their cars and trucks.

In the Kansas City, MO, metro area, 191 of every 1,000 workers living in Caldwell County commute at least 60 minutes a day -- one way -- to get to their jobs. That’s the highest share of workers in the 16-county Kansas City area who commute each way an hour or more every workday, according to a LawnStarter analysis of new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Job Journeys

A deep dive into Census Bureau data explains why Caldwell Countians are on the road so much.

Just 21 percent of workers from Caldwell County -- a rural area with only 9,000 residents -- actually work in their home county, according to Census Bureau data. The rest of the workers travel outside Caldwell County to earn a living, with Clay County (13.9 percent) and Jackson County (12.1 percent) being the top two destinations outside their home county. The distance from Kingston, the county seat of Caldwell County, to Kansas City, the county seat of Jackson County, is about 56 miles.

A handful of Caldwell County commuters even go as far as Columbia, Jefferson City or St. Louis for work.

Fortunately, though, most Caldwell County residents work much closer to home and don’t spend nearly as much time commuting as, say, residents of the New York, NY, and Washington, DC, metro areas do.

The Caldwell County town of Hamilton was the boyhood home of retailer J.C. Penney. Photo: Geographically Yours Welcome

Unhealthy Commutes

Still, those Caldwell Countians who do spend at least an hour a day commuting to work face some serious consequences. Aside from spending more time away from home and more money on gas, people with killer commutes may see their cholesterol rise, their happiness go down, their risk of depression go up and their anxiety increase, according to Time magazine.

Generally speaking, long commutes just aren’t healthy.

A study by researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada found that the more time someone spends getting to and from work, the less likely the person is to be satisfied with life.

“Some people may enjoy a commute, but overall, longer travel time is linked to feelings of time crunch, which can increase stress levels,” says Margo Hilbrecht, a professor of applied health sciences at the University of Waterloo.

For a county-by-county rundown of one-way commutes lasting 60 minutes or more in the Kansas City area, see the graphic below. To check out statistics for a county, hover over that county on the map.

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