By Ken de la Bastide
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON – On a typical weekday more than 24,000 people either drive to Madison County or leave Madison County to go to work.
The latest figures released by STATSIndiana show that 16,614 county residents commute to another Indiana county or state for employment and 8,078 people drive to Anderson and Madison County for work.
Over the past three years the trend for commuters for employment has shown a steady increase. In 2010, there were 15,746 people leaving the county for jobs and 7,693 workers coming to Madison County.
What is not surprising is that the number of county residents who travel to Marion County is the highest commuting pattern with 6,057 residents making the daily commute followed by 4,557 traveling to Hamilton County and 2,042 people going to Delaware County.
Delaware County, with 1,770 people traveling to Madison County for work, is the highest in that category followed by 1,651 from Hamilton County and 1,370 commuting from Henry County.
The average commute time in the U.S. is 25.5 minutes; from Anderson to Indianapolis the average commute time is closer to 45 minutes.
The trend for people commuting into and leaving Madison County for employment opportunities has been slowly increasing over the past three years.
“It has been the general trend since 1997,” Robert Wertman, senior transportation planner for the Madison County Council of Governments, said. “It used to be hundreds of people commuting on a daily basis, now it is the thousands.”
Wertman said one trend that has been developing in recent years is the increase in the number of people who are traveling to Madison County for work.
“People are commuting to Madison County,” he said. “That is reversing the trend in the past where people were traveling to Hamilton and Marion counties for work.”
As the Interstate 69 and Indiana 67 corridors develop, Wertman said, the trend of people commuting from and to Madison County will continue. He said people tend to forget that Indiana 9 and Indiana 109 south of Anderson connect to Interstate 70.
“There is an increase in the number of people coming into Madison County,” he said. “Madison County is becoming more competitive in the Indianapolis metropolitan market.”
During the 1970s the commuting pattern for workers was mostly between Anderson and Delaware County, Wertman said. That has now become a pattern of traveling to Marion, Hancock and Hamilton counties.
Wertman said people living in Marion County are looking at Madison County as a place to live and they will commute to work in another county.
“As Anderson develops we will see people commute for better opportunities and jobs,” he said.
Wertman said the STATSIndiana figures don’t include people who commute to Hamilton and Marion counties or come to Anderson for shopping and entertainment.
Greg Winkler, director of the Anderson Economic Development Department, said he wasn’t surprised at the latest commuting numbers.
He said when members of the Anderson City Council want companies locating in the city to hire only employees from Madison County they are forgetting what the impact would be if other counties took the same approach.
“We’re seeing a lot of what I call ‘cross-pollinating’ of people coming into and out of the county,” Winkler said. “As we continue to see Anderson operating in the Indianapolis economic sphere that trend will continue.”
The number of people coming to Anderson for reasons other than employment is also increasing in recent years, he said.
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.
The top five counties where Madison County residents commute to on a daily basis for employment, according to STATSIndiana: • Marion County - 6,057 • Hamilton County - 4,557 • Delaware County - 2,042 • Hancock County - 776 • Grant County - 713 Top five counties where people travel from to work in Madison County, according to STATSIndiana: • Delaware County - 1,770 • Hamilton County - 1,651 • Henry County - 1,370 • Marion County - 827 • Hancock County - 501