Owning a car isn’t just a luxury any more. Today, owning a car might be the key to upward mobility for many people in poverty. A recent New York Times article summarizes two studies that basically have the same conclusion.
According to the Times article “The relationship between transportation and social mobility is stronger than that between mobility and several other factors, like crime, elementary-school test scores or the percentage of two-parent families in a community, said Nathaniel Hendren, a Harvard economist and one of the researchers on the study.”
What’s concerning for the Twin Cities is where the job growth in the metro area occurred between 2000-2014, according to a recent story by Peter Callaghan, writing for MinnPost. As you might guess, it’s not along major bus routes. In fact, the county with the most job growth in the metro area is Dakota County, followed by Washington, Anoka, Carver, and Scott counties.
Daily Work job seekers can certainly testify to this challenge. In fact, nearly 50 percent of the people we served last year were dependent on public transportation, limiting their employment to opportunities to jobs on transit routes and also to daytime hours, when transit is most available. In addition, public transportation can greatly increase commute times when riders are required to use multiple lines or travel to less accessible areas, where the busses don’t fun frequently. Raymond, who got a job with Daily Work’s help in February 2014, knew having a car was critical to his ability to keep his job.
“My new job was only 12 miles away, but it took three hours each way by bus. I knew this might not besustainable over time, so I spoke to Daily Work. They helped me secure a small grant that allowed me topurchase a car. Today it takes me 10 minutes to go to work…20 minutes back and forth. It also allows meto work a lot of overtime because I can drive to other locations, that have no bus access,” Raymond said.It’s really a chicken or the egg question…do job seekers need better jobs so they can afford their owncars or do they need cars so they have access to better jobs.Obviously, there’s no easy answer…and the solutions are many and variable, depending on each person’s unique situation. In Raymond’s case, it helped that he was able to find ways to get to work untilafter he received his first paycheck, so that he could afford car insurance and gas once he bought his car.If you’re interested in learning more about these issues, read the news stories posted below. We alsowelcome you to share your own thoughts or your experiences getting to and from work.