Those who know me can attest to the fact that I have said , one way to gauge what is happening in your local economy is to look at the traffic in your community. Want to know if jobs are being lost? look to see how much traffic is on the roads at rush hour.
Of course I did not have any empirical proof of this theory until now. A report was published today by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M showing that urban Americans spent an hour less in traffic in 2007 than they did the year before.
It is Interesting to note that higher gas prices were more effective at reducing driving in the U.S. than any policy decision has ever been. Not surprising the report went on to show that a similar correlation was found with regards to parking congestion. So in other words, less cars on the road equaled less cars in parking garages.
People living in 439 metro areas were surveyed in the report. When everything was tabulated they found that these folks spent 36 hours in traffic in 2007, an hour less than in 2006 (“in traffic” is defined as wasted time that is above and beyond than the natural length of the commute).
Among the biggest drops in congestion were the San Francisco and Denver areas where congestion fell three hours each.
Now there is one area where the recession has not had as much of an impact and that is Washington D.C. who is benefiting from all the increases in federal spending. There the surveyed found congestion had actually increase by three hours. Sad to say, but recession, it seems, is the only good way to reduce traffic.
It turns out that in past recessions many regional markets saw drops in congestion hours. In the early 1990s recession, for instance, congestion dropped in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego — all very congested places that were hit hard by the loss of aerospace jobs.
In this economy not all areas are moving up and down the same. There are opportunities in some areas more than others. Understanding the local economy can help target your marketing and sales approach.
Here is a chart that gives you an overall picture of the changes in traffic by city name.
Annual Wasted Hours per Traveler
|City||State||2007||2006||1997||1982||Change 1982 to 2007|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana||CA||70||72||69||44||+26|