Identifying commuting patterns can help you define a labor shed for regional planning purposes.  A commuting pattern - made up of journey to work routes - refers to groups of workers in a region, and the distances and directions they travel from home to work.   

Place of work refers to the geographic location of the worker’s job. A worker is defined as a person 16 years old and over, who were employed and at work during a reference period.

Survey Data on Commuting Patterns

There are several surveys conducted by the Census Bureau that ask questions regarding commuting drives and place of work, such as the American Community Survey (ACS), Decennial Census (2000 and prior), American Housing Survey (AHS), and the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP).

Some of the survey questions include: mean travel time, means of transportation, time of departure, vehicles available, distance traveled, and expenses associated with the commute.

Commuting data at the county-level is readily available from a variety of sources, but you can use the data from the Local Employment Dynamics (LED) program at the Census Bureau to better understand commuting flows for smaller units of geography, such as cities, ZIP codes or school districts.

                        Mid-Atlantic Regional Collaborative (MARC) Green Jobs Consortium - April 5th Webinar

Identifying a Labor Shed with Commuting Pattern Data

Understanding the relationship between where people live and where people work is necessary for a variety of analyses.

The ability to link information about commuting patterns to socio-demographic characteristics and geography allows planners to forecast local peak travel demand, gauge the amount of pressure placed on transportation infrastructure, and address unmet transportation needs more accurately.

Federal, state, and local planners and decision-makers use the ACS and other Census Bureau survey data to guide decisions about regional planning and allocation of limited public resources devoted to infrastructure. 

OnTheMap with Local Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD)

The Census Bureau also released OnTheMap. This tool provides data about where workers are employed, and where they live with companion reports on age, earnings, industry distribution and local workforce indicators. Data are available for 47 states with coverage from 2002 through 2008.