By on 8.20.15 in Transportation

North Carolina’s 4.2 million workers 16 and older mainly get to work by car: 81% drove alone and 10% carpooled. Working at home (4.4%) and walking (1.8%) were the next most common responses in the 2009-13 American Community Survey. Only about 1.2% or 50,000 individuals reported using public transportation to get to work.

How does NC compare to other states?

How NC Workers Commute

Drive Alone

Just over 81% of 3.4 million North Carolina workers drive alone to work according to the 2009-13 ACS estimates. This is the 16th highest rate among the states. Nationally, 76.4% of workers drive alone to work.

In five states, more than 83% of all commuters drive alone to work. The top three—Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi—are in the South; the remaining two (Ohio and Indiana) are Midwestern states.

Top 5 States_Car Commuting


Nearly 440,000 or 10.4% of all workers carpooled to work. Nationally, 9.8% of workers carpooled. North Carolina has the 15th highest rate of carpooling among the states.

All 5 of the states with the highest rates of carpooling were western states. Interestingly, the two non-contiguous states—Hawaii (14.4%) and Alaska (12.9%)—have the highest rates of carpooling.

Public Transportation

Nationally, 5.1% of all workers use public transportation to get to work. This includes individuals who travel by bus, streetcar or trolley car, subway or elevated, railroad, and ferryboat, as well as those who take taxicabs to work. With 1.2% or about 50,000 individuals using public transit to commute, North Carolina ranks 32nd for public transit use.

Public transit dominates smaller, highly dense urban places, such as the District of Columbia (38.8%) and New York (27.6% – driven by New York City, where 57% of workers use public transit). Among the states (and DC), only the District of Columbia has more individuals using public transit than driving alone to work (34%), however.

Top 5 States_Non Car Commuting

Biking or Walking

North Carolina has one of the lowest shares of commuters biking or walking to work: only 2.1% of individuals bike or walk to work, ranking North Carolina 45th. The six states with lower rates than North Carolina are all southern—Texas (1.9%), Arkansas (1.9%), Georgia (1.8%), Mississippi (1.7%), Tennessee (1.5%), and Alabama (1.3%).

Nationally, about 3.4% workers commute on foot or by bike. These rates are much higher in some of the areas where public transit is common—D.C. (15.7%) and New York (6.9%)—as well as states that are known for their outdoor, more active populations: Alaska, Vermont, and Oregon.

Work from Home

About 4.4% of North Carolina workers reported working from home, putting North Carolina in line with national averages (4.3%). Four of the top 5 states for telework were in the western part of the country; three—Colorado, Montana, and Idaho—are part of the Census Bureau’s mountain region. Montana is currently campaigning to attract more teleworkers to the state, so we may see it rise in the ranks in coming years if this campaign is successful.

Want more? We’ll continue to look at county-to-county commuting patterns and mode of transportation in next week’s posts.

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