Maricopans have the third-worst commuting time in all of Arizona, according to 2020 census data.
On average, city residents commute 38.1 minutes to work – one-way – about 12.3 minutes longer than the average Arizonan. That means full-timers spend more than 100 more hours in the car annually traveling to and from work than the average state resident.
Moreover, nearly 5% of the workforce in Maricopa reported in the American Community Survey they have “super commutes” in excess of 90 minutes.
Maricopa is, of course, a major bedroom community for the metro Phoenix area. According to city statistics, nearly 80% of its more than 62,000 residents work outside of the city. Thousands of residents travel the congested State Route 347 to head to jobs in Phoenix, Chandler and other cities in the Valley. A much smaller number commutes to work in Casa Grande and Florence, the seat of county government.
The average commute for Maricopans is so bad it helps drag Pinal County into the top spot for longest average commute in the state.
The average commute in Pinal County is 31.5 minutes, or 5.7 minutes longer than the state average (25.8 minutes). The second-worst county is Apache in the northeast corner of the state, with an average commute time of 27.3 minutes, or 4.2 minutes less than Pinal.
Maricopans’ average commute is 6.6 minutes, or 17%, longer than that of the average Pinal resident.
Other than San Tan Valley, an unincorporated community and census designated place, where commutes averaged 35.9 minutes, most other population centers in Pinal County had significantly shorter commutes than Maricopa.
In Casa Grande, for example, the county’s second-largest city after Maricopa, the average commute is 22.6 minutes, 15.5 minutes less than Maricopa and 3.2 minutes less than the state average.
The only places with longer commutes in the state than Maricopa are two, much smaller census-designated places west of Tucson in Pima County – Three Points (55.1 minutes) and Picture Rocks (40.7 minutes).
Studies have demonstrated that commuting takes a toll.
“Commuting exacts considerable stress on the human mind and body and on family relationships. All the stressors, day in and day out, take their toll,” said a 2005 report in Scientific American. “Each added travel minute correlates with an increase in health problems. Several studies have shown that long-distance commuters suffer from psychosomatic disorders at a much higher rate than people with short trips to work. Physical symptoms range from headaches and backaches to digestive problems and high blood pressure. Mental ills include sleep disturbances, fatigue and concentration problems.”
“Commuters who drive,” it noted, “have it especially hard — bad weather, traffic jams and accidents all cause stress.”
The rest of the top five Arizona counties: Maricopa, 26.5 minutes; Pima, 24.7 minutes; and Yavapai, 23.2 minutes.
The census figures are based on 2020 five-year estimates.