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Knoxville Regional
Transportation Planning Organization

400 Main St, Suite 403
Knoxville, TN 37902

email: contact@planeasttn.org
phone: (865) 215-2500
fax: (865) 215-2068

New Census Figures Confirm Regional Connections

Posted 03/21/2013

A recent data release from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that 1 in 6 area workers, or almost 60,000 people, commute to another PlanET county for work.  What are the implications for this level of mobility on our region?

A recent data release from the U.S. Census Bureau has confirmed what residents of Anderson, Blount, Knox, Loudon, and Union Counties already know: the people who live and work in our region share daily connections. With one in six local workers driving to a neighboring county in the region to go to work each day, it’s clear that our economic, environmental, and cultural ties don’t stop at county lines.

Almost 60,000 of the PlanET region’s 350,000 workers commute to another county within the region every day. In Anderson County alone, nearly 10,000 residents—one-third of its workers—go to a different county elsewhere in the five-county region for work. Similar rates of daily commuting are reported for Blount and Loudon counties. And more than half of Union County’s residents travel to a neighboring county to work. (See map.)

According to the American Community Survey—a product of the U.S. Census Bureau— the flow of commuters traveling to work from their home counties to some other county in the PlanET region is on the rise, continuing a decade-long trend.

A look at commuting figures leads to questions about how our region works, and how some changes might be desired for its future. For example, can more jobs be brought to Union County so 55 percent of its workers don’t have to drive to another county for work? Do Union County residents face transportation cost burdens that affect their quality of life? With more than 20,000 people traveling between Knox and Anderson counties each workday, should we take a look at regional transit? Can we do a better job providing housing opportunities in areas closer to employment centers? What are the impacts on our region’s air quality in light of the growing need to drive farther for work?

Our region’s population is expected to reach over 1,000,000 in the next 30 years. The trend in commuter flows reaffirms a need to think regionally, not just about our transportation system, but also about the economy, environment, and overall health and well-being of our communities.

Because we are living regionally, we need to plan regionally. The decisions that residents, developers, and elected officials make now will have a huge impact on the future of our communities. We need to ask the right questions and develop a vision for that future now because how we grow matters!

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Copyright 2013 by Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission