Commuter pattern Artboard 3 2x

Oct 2023

Commuter Dividend

The Economic Value of Commuters for City and Suburbs in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut Region

Whether going into the office or working from home, commuters are a vital source of jobs and income throughout the metro area.



City and Suburbs: A Mutually Beneficial Relationship

Our Region

RPA operates in the interconnected 31-county New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan region.

Map of the Region RPA works in







23 million


13 thousand

Square Miles

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3


The Continuing Need for a Robust, Well-Functioning Transit Network

RPA Regional Rail Existing Commuter Network

Figure 4

Figure 5

Chart from RPA report Gateway and the Post-COVID Economy describing scenarios for future growth and trans-Hudson travel.


A Million Commuters Earning $141 Billion

2022 out of NYC

Figure 6: Number and Wages of New York City Workers by Place of Residence, 2022

Place of ResidenceNumber of WorkersShare of NYC WorkersTotal Wages and SalariesShare of Wages in Place of ResidenceAverage Wage
Northern New Jersey447,1129.6%$61,680,299,48923.3%$137,953
Long Island306,3286.5%$37,927,290,10433.9%$123,813
Mid-Hudson Valley211,1614.5%$30,211,566,21534.3%$143,074
Southwestern Connecticut47,0571.0%$11,356,511,55415.5%$241,338
All Commuters to NYC1,011,65821.6%$141,175,667,36126.3%$139,549

Source: RPA estimate based on 2019 ACS, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019-2022 Current Employment Series and Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages

Figure 7: New York City Worker by Place of Residence and Average Wage by Industry, 2022

Industry% NYC Resident% Non-NYC ResidentAverage Wage
Wholesale Trade75.5%24.5%$117,289
Retail Trade85.8%14.2%$55,856
Transportation and Warehousing80.0%20.0%$74,243
Finance and Insurance61.1%38.9%$370,752
Real Estate79.7%20.3%$96,305
Professional Services72.1%27.9%$167,011
Management of Companies58.3%41.7%$233,186
Administrative Services82.0%18.0%$73,683
Educational Services80.5%19.5%$85,141
Health and Social Care84.6%15.4%$59,949
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation85.5%14.5%$100,212
Accommodation and Food Services89.3%10.7%$44,083
Other Services86.7%13.3%$62,528
Public Administration69.2%30.8%$103,386
All Industries78.4%21.6%$113,489

Source: American Community Survey, BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages and Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers in NY-NJ-CT metropolitan area

Figure 8

Figure 9: Number and Wages of Reverse Commuters Living in New York City, 2022

Place of BusinessNumber of WorkersShare of NYC Working ResidentsTotal Wages and SalariesShare of NYC Resident WagesAverage Wage
Northern New Jersey70,6381.8%$8,397,830,3972.7%$118,886
Long Island113,7602.9%$7,230,314,5212.3%$63,557
Mid-Hudson Valley64,4181.6%$4,587,550,4591.5%$71,216
Southwestern Connecticut7,8260.2%$1,561,786,6980.5%$199,570
All Reverse NYC Commuters256,6426.5%$21,777,482,0767.0%$84,856

Source: RPA estimate based on 2019 ACS and 2019-2022 BLS Current Employment Series and Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages


Commuter Wages Led to an Additional 627,000 Jobs With $59 Billion in Wages in Suburban Areas

Figure 10

Figure 11: Job and Earnings Impacts of Commuters to NYC in Place of Residence, 2022

WorkersWages & SalariesJobs Induced from Worker SpendingEarnings Induced from Worker SpendingDirect + Induced JobsDirect + Induced Earnings
Northern NJ447,112$61,680,299,489310,078$30,035,431,307757,190$91,715,730,797
Long Island306,328$37,927,290,104178,752$14,977,779,612485,080$52,905,069,716
Mid-Hudson Valley211,161$30,211,566,215109,442$10,194,058,361320,604$40,405,624,576
Southwestern CT47,057$11,356,511,55428,658$4,266,934,02375,715$15,623,445,577

Sources: RPA estimates using BEA RIMS II multipliers


A COVID Conundrum: Fewer People, More Money Flowing Between City and Suburbs

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Figure 13


Growing Interdependence Between New York and New Jersey

2010 2019 commuters to NYC

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Figure 15


Gateway and Other Transit Investments Will Be Critical in a Post-COVID, Hybrid Economy

Appendix: Methods and Assumptions


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