How Traffic Can Be an Indicator of the Economy’s Health

Research shows a correlation between the two

traffic jamA new report says that a rise in the amount of traffic, which can be the source of anger, stress and an increased heart rate for hot-headed drivers, might actually be a reason to rejoice: it means the economy has improved.

From MSN:

INRIX, a global provider of traffic information and driver services, says traffic congestion is rising this year, after two consecutive years of double-digit declines. According to the firm’s sixth traffic scorecard annual report, the 4% overall increase in traffic for the first three months of 2013, compared with the same time last year, suggests a better financial landscape that’s in line with rising employment data.

So far this year, according to the report, 61 of America’s 100 largest cities have experienced increased traffic congestion. That’s a big jump from 2012, when 94 of those cities had declines. But Bryan Mistele, INRIX president and CEO, says we’re not yet back to prerecession traffic levels.

The five worst cities for travel were Los Angeles, Honolulu, San Francisco, Austin, Texas, and New York.

“Fears over recurring fiscal deadlines and ongoing debt issues last year likely fueled declines in traffic congestion, with businesses and consumers alike taking a ‘wait and see’ approach,” said Bryan Mistele, INRIX president and CEO in a statement. “While bad news for drivers, the gains we’ve seen in the U.S. and a few countries in Europe in 2013 are cause for some optimism about the direction of the economy.”

The most recent study is INRIX’s sixth. It also tracks European cities; traffic there was down 23 percent in the first quarter of this year, and a whopping 81 of 94 cities saw decreases in traffic.

Read the report here.

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