The US Census Bureau’s look at American households last year showed the effects of the down economy – but it included one fact which is good for radio: increased commute times.
The troubled economy actually had the effect of decreasing the number of foreign born residents in the US – the total dipped under 38M after peaking in 2007 as fewer foreign-born workers bothered to seek work in states like of California, Arizona and Florida. The Census Bureau estimates that almost 12M immigrants are here illegally.
The economy caused people to postpone life decisions such as getting married or buying a house.
But the average commute increased to 25.5 minutes, even though the number of individuals who drive alone to work decreased to 75.5%. This was attributed to a new reliance on car-pooling that began back when gas hit $4/gallon.
While more time on the road is definitely good for drive-time radio, and car-pooling doesn’t necessarily harm listening, there was a down side — in addition to inspiring ride sharing, the economy also influenced more people to rely on mass transit – not a good thing for radio.
In part, the increased commute was due to people leaving earlier to pick up ride-sharers or to find parking in mass-transit parking lots. And they were starting early – 12.5% were out the door by 6AM.
The survey was based on information gathered from 3M households.