2071.0.55.001 - Census of Population and Housing: Commuting to Work - More Stories from the Census, 2016  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/05/2018  First Issue
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22 May 2018

Embargo: 11:30 am (Canberra Time)

How far do Australians go to get to work?

Men travel longer to get to work than women while miners have the longest average commute of all occupations, according to recently released data from the 2016 Census.

The latest information shows that the average Australian commuting distance to work was 16km.

Gender, occupation, and income level
Within this, males travelled an average of 17.7km and females 14.2km. This coincides with males comprising a larger share of workers in occupations that have longer average travel distances.

“While most occupations averaged journeys under 17.0km,” said Phillip Wise, Director of Census Dissemination, “Technicians and trade workers travelled an average of 18.2km to get to work, Machinery operators travelled 21.1km, and the grand champions of long journeys to work were by people in the mining industry, who averaged 40.3km.

“At the other end, the industry with the shortest average journey to work was Accommodation and food services workers, at 11.4km.”

Mr Wise said the data also showed that, generally, as income rises so does people’s average commuting distances. People with a weekly income of $2,000-$2,999 travelled the longest average distance to work (20.0 km), while people with a weekly income of $1-$149 had the shortest average distance to work (9.6 km).

Of the 9.2 million commuters on Census day, 79 per cent travelled to work by private vehicle, 14 per cent took public transport and 5.2 per cent either cycled or walked. In addition to those who commuted on Census day, a further 0.5 million reported that they worked from home, and 1 million employed persons did not go to work on that day.

Location, location, location
And while 73 per cent of workers (employed persons over the age of 15 years) commuted a distance of less than 20km to work, people in some parts of the country, and some lines of work, travelled much further than others.

“Australia’s largest capital cities had longer commuting distances than the smaller capitals. Residents in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane all averaged about 15km, while those living in the Australian Capital Territory had the shortest average commutes at 11.7km.”

“Workers outside of the state capital cities generally had longer average commutes when compared to their corresponding cities, while commuting distances also tended to increase the further a region was from a central business district or major town hub”, Mr Wise said.

Census data also sheds light on ‘self-containment’, or the proportion of employed persons living and working in the same labour market region (Statistical Area 4 – SA4). For 60% of employed Australians, their workplace was reported to be in the same labour market region as their home, slightly less than in 2011.

Modes of transportation
Public transport usage is highest for those working in Sydney (27 per cent of commuters) and Melbourne (19 per cent of commuters), while around 80 per cent of commuters used private vehicles to get to work in Brisbane (80 per cent), Hobart (84 per cent), Adelaide (84 per cent), the Australian Capital Territory (83 per cent) and Perth (83 per cent).

Four interactive maps have been created that allow users to explore the commuting distances and journey to work of Australian's by communities. The following image shows an example of the journey to work interactive map for people living in Melbourne:

Image: shows an example of the journey to work interactive map for people living in Melbourne:

More information is available in Census of Population and Housing: Commuting to Work - More Stories from the Census, 2016 (cat. no. 2071.0.55.001) available for free download from the ABS website.

Media notes:

    • The collection of address of usual residence and address of place of work in the Census has ensured the ABS can produce this high quality data on the journey to work and release output for a number of different geographic areas.
    • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
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