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Newton workers report high commute time

COVINGTON -- Newton County workers travel an average of 30.8 minutes to work, right up there with the longest travel times in the nation, based on data recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau through its 2010 American Community Survey.

Commute time has decreased for Newton residents, however, with the average travel time reported at 32.3 minutes in 2009 and 2008. The majority of commuters, 81.3 percent, use cars, trucks or vans and drive alone, whereas 12.6 percent carpool. One percent walk to work and only .3 percent use public transportation and another .2 percent use another, unspecified means of transportation. Also, 4.6 percent work from home. Those numbers are based on a workforce of 48,835 people.

Nationally, the average commute time is 25.3 minutes. Longest commute times are in Maryland, at 31.8 minutes, and New York, at 31.3 minutes.

The annual survey covers a variety of topics, from commute times to income to health insurance coverage to occupation.

The survey indicates a majority of workers in Newton are in health care, educational services and social assistance as well as management, business, science and arts occupations.

Newton's median income is reported at $49,397, very close to the national median of $50,046. The survey shows that 14.5 percent of Newton families live below the poverty level, up from 11.5 percent in 2009. That also represents an increase of more than 5 percent since 2007.

The survey indicates that 81 percent of Newton's population has health insurance coverage.

The majority of households, or 76.1 percent, are family households, and 37.4 percent have children under age 18. A total of 23.9 percent are non-family households, and in 19.6 percent the householder lives alone.

Of the county's 38,342 housing units, 89.7 percent are occupied and 10.3 percent are vacant, according to the survey. Owner-occupied housing accounts for 75.1 percent of the inventory, with renter occupied units at 24.9 percent. The rental vacancy rate was reported at 11.5 percent and the homeowner vacancy rate at 4.1 percent.