Reverse commuting in Houston up 18.5 percent, still comparatively low

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Aug. 8, 2018

Reverse commuting in Houston increased by 18.5 percent from 2011 to 2015, one of the highest rates of growth among the top 25 U.S. metros. But the Houston MSA still has one of the lowest rates of reverse commuting.

In our latest Ambitious Thinking research on Smart Cities, we studied the settlement of college graduates aged 25 and older in the 25 largest U.S. metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). It found that reverse commuting increased 11.6 percent nationally from 2011 to 2015 and today, an average of 46 percent of job holders living in major cities travel outside of those cities for work. In Houston, that number is 31.6 percent.

Houston’s rate of reverse commuting is second lowest only to NYC, where just 14.8 percent of job holders leave the city for work.

What’s the reason?

Houston’s suburbs have experienced a higher percent increase in highly educated talent than the city’s core. In this regard, Houston stands in contrast to most other U.S. metros, which have seen highly educated talent cluster faster in cities. Specifically, the region surrounding the city of Houston grew its population of highly educated adults by 256,090 between 2011 and 2015, an increase of 39.7 percent. Meanwhile, the city of Houston grew its population of highly educated adults by 119,341 between 2011 and 2015, an increase of 32.8 percent.

Moreover, the city of Houston is home to 60.2 percent of jobs within the MSA. This stands in stark contrast to metros like Miami, Detroit and Atlanta where the city is home to only 11.7 percent, 13.1 percent and 17.7 percent of the greater MSA’s jobs, respectively.

As a result, highly educated talent in the Houston metro area is primarily driving from the suburbs to the city for work, despite fast growth in reverse commuting rates.

What it means?

We are just at the tip of the iceberg for real estate strategies moving to meet talent where it lives, but in today’s full employment economy, employers need to focus more than ever on differentiating based on their real estate and the quality of life it offers their employees.

Download our Ambitious Thinking Smart Cities report for more on talent clustering, job growth and commuting.

Read about the report in the Houston Chronicle.