According to the US Census Bureau, the average commute to work is 25.4 minutes.
That’s what makes super commuters so, well, super. Megan Bearce, licensed marriage and family therapist, defines super commuter in her book, Super Commuter Couples: Staying Together When a Job Keeps You Apart, as “a new category of employee who lives in one city and commutes a great distance to his or her job in another city, via any mode of transportation.” And she doesn’t mean doing this daily; she means commuting to one city for work on, say, Monday morning, and not making the trip home until the following weekend.
It sounds insane, but according to Bearce’s research, an estimated 3.42 million full-time workers were super commuters during 2012 in the United States alone. That means families, Bearce’s included, spend the majority of the year living apart.
The good news is, at least one industry is trying to help. Recognizing that more than a third of university faculty nationally has a spouse or partner who also works in academia, and another 36 percent have a partner employed outside of higher education, a new tri-state regional section of the national Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC) will help dual-career couples find job openings within reasonable commuting distances of one another.
Beginning Friday, May 16, 2014, representatives from 31 colleges and universities across Ohio, West Virginia, and Western Pennsylvania will formally launch a cooperative job-posting service that helps these couples find positions in academia. The network mainly serves couples in higher education, but also offers resources and information about other professional opportunities.
Serving as the lead institution for the new regional HERC is Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. “Higher education institutions now face opportunities to recruit dual-career couples, so when we recruit a faculty member, we almost always need to find a position for his or her spouse or partner,” says Lynn Singer, CWRU deputy provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Case Western Reserve stepped forward as lead institution for the Ohio,Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia HERC, because HERC provides a one-stop resource for open positions across the region to facilitate attracting such couples to CWRU and other institutions, which helps prevent the ‘brain drain’ that occurs when the spouse or partner can’t find a job.”