Report: Seattle drivers spending less time in traffic this year

Apr 24, 2013

Good news, Seattle drivers: we’re spending less time sitting in traffic this year.

In 2012, Seattle ranked eighth on the list of the most congested U.S. cities with drivers spending an average of 35 hours a year in gridlock, according to the annual Scorecard report.  

This year, that time has dropped by 11 percent, even as congestion rose by 4 percent nationwide. According to the latest numbers, 61 of the top 100 most congested cities have seen more delays. Boston, the tenth most gridlocked city in 2012, saw a 31 percent spike in traffic congestion.

Credit Washington State Employment Security Department

Why more gridlock nationwide? The report pointed to cheaper fuel prices as one possible reason. The data also hints that “after 2012’s rollercoaster, the economy may be on the road to recovery for good,” the report said. Employment is up by 1.3 percent so far this year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

But Seattle has not seen a rise in unemployment as its drop in congestion time might suggest. The state’s preliminary data for March 2013 lists Seattle’s unemployment rate at 5.5 percent, a drop from the March 2012 rate of 7.3 percent.

However, the state estimates the number of unemployed Washingtonians actively seeking jobs has likely dropped by 5,500 compared to the same time last year.

Until this year, the nation’s traffic gridlock had seen a major decline since 2007.