Workers making long daily commutes in the 1950s were understood as those best able to afford
amenities normally available outside the "urban core"-that is, the downtown central business district
(CBD) plus adjacent transportation-industrial zones and high density residential neighborhoods within
"central cities" such as Minneapolis and St. Paul. This report examines characteristics of Minnesota
workers residing in Minnesota's metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas who made long duration (more
than 30 minutes one way) commutes in 1990, concluding that early metropolitan-based models today lack
much if not all of their former applicability.
Minnesota's average commute of 19.1 minutes fell below the national average of 19.7, but more than
450,000 Minnesota workers spent more than 30 minutes commuting each way. Long duration work
journeys were not restricted to the stereotypical upper income suburban family. In all geographic
categories, the largest group of long duration commuters came from two person households, whose
commuting may reflect compromises between two job locations.
In a five county "exurban" (i.e., beyond continuously built-up suburban areas) study area between
Minneapolis and St. Cloud, average auto commuting time was the state's highest, at nearly 26 minutes.
Blue collar workers reported commuting times longer than professionals. Findings have implications for
policy proposals such as highway improvements, toll roads, or new energy taxes.