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Westchester County Commutation Patterns

by The BCW

Westchester County has emerged as the top commuter destination in the Hudson Valley. Reasons for this include access to public transportation, higher wages, and a higher concentration of jobs relative to the rest of the Hudson Valley region. Westchester County has a particularly strong commuting relationship with neighboring Putnam County and Dutchess County to the north. There are more Putnam County residents that commute into Westchester than Putnam County residents that work within their own County. Throughout much of Dutchess County, Westchester County is the top commuter destination among residents who commute.

Since 2002, there has been a steady increase in the number of people that commute into Westchester County, rising from 165,917 in 2002 to 207,258 in 2017. In the early 2000s, the number of people commuting into the County surpassed the number of people that live and work in the county, meaning that more than half of the jobs in Westchester County are filled by people who live outside of the County.

While the number of people commuting into Westchester has grown, so too has the number of people commuting out of the County. This is a trend that is primarily driven by Westchester County residents commuting into New York City. From 2002 to 2017, the number of Westchester County residents who commute out of the County increased, and the number of people living and working in the County decreased. However, over this same time period, Westchester’s overall population grew by about 45,000 people. This indicates that an increasing number of people with jobs in New York City choose to live in Westchester County.

The commutation data suggests that there is an increasingly mobile workforce that is feeding into a growing north to south commuting pattern. Many mid-Hudson Valley residents commute south from Putnam and Dutchess for jobs in Westchester, and many Westchester residents commute south into New York City. This commutation flow is facilitated by the existing transportation infrastructure such as the Hudson and Harlem Metro North train lines, the Taconic Parkway, and several other North – South highways.

Just under half (46%) of all workers that commute into Westchester from a different county work in one of the six cities in Westchester: Yonkers, White Plains, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, Rye, and Peekskill. The City of White Plains, in particular, has emerged as a regional job center and commuter destination. With a population of about fifty-nine thousand people, White Plains is smaller than Yonkers, New Rochelle, and Mount Vernon. Despite its relatively smaller size, White Plains punches above its weight class, attracting more commuters from outside of Westchester County (27,205) and from other Westchester municipalities (17,278) than any other City in Westchester.

In each of the six cities, at least half of the jobs are filled by people who live outside of Westchester County and commute in. Furthermore, in each city, at least 70% of the jobs are filled by someone who doesn’t live in that city and commuted in from somewhere else in Westchester County or outside of Westchester County. Among the six cities, Yonkers had the largest number (15,341) and percentage (30%) of jobs filled by local residents.

So few jobs being filled by local residents is another indication of a highly mobile workforce. It also suggests that there is a mismatch beteween the local residents and the jobs available to them in their city of residence.

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