New data from the 2000 Census shows a big change in where Iowans chose to work between 1980 and 2000. Beth Henning of the State Library of Iowa says the data shows that 22-percent of Iowans now commute to jobs outside the county where they live. Henning says that’s an increase of eight percent from 1980, and she says it includes nearly all of the state’s 99 counties.Only six Iowa counties (Black Hawk, Carroll, Cerro Gordo, Dubuque, Linn, and Polk) have more than 90-percent of their residents working inside the county. That’s down from eleven counties in 1990 and twenty-nine counties in 1980. Henning says the going to work has changed for many Iowans.She says we used to talk about driving city-to-city for a job, but now it has become a county-to-county drive — which she attributes to a broader Iowa economy. She says the travel time has also increased.She says the average commute is 18-and-a-half minutes, up from 16-point-two minutes in the 1990 census. She says that doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is when it comes in a figure that averages out the commute. Henning says many counties are drawing workers in from a much longer range than they have in the past. She says there’s more employment in the metro areas, so travel time has clustered around those areas. She says Black Hawk, Linn, Polk and Johnson counties have seen an increase, as have the Omaha and Sioux City areas. Henning says in some cases, people live in a smaller county because they can afford a bigger home. She says Black Hawk County is a big example, and says Johnson County and Harrison counties are an example too of people choosing to live in the smaller surrounding counties for quality of life reasons. Henning says this increase in commuting workers could have a big impact later this spring when federal officials designate metropolitan areas in the state. This process defines the boundaries of metro areas. She says the designation of metropolitan areas is important in how transportation funds are doled out and it also can impact where businesses locate. She says six of the eight metro areas could change.
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