Feasibility of Using Jobs/Housing Balance in Virginia Statewide Planning

Report No: 11-R1

Published in 2010

About the report:

The Code of Virginia (§ 33.1-23.03) requires that the Statewide Transportation Plan include “quantifiable measures and achievable goals relating to . . . job-to-housing ratios.”  Such ratios reflect jobs/housing balance, defined as an equivalence in the numbers of an area’s jobs and area residents seeking those jobs.  This report identifies planning policies based on jobs/housing balance, examines the impact of such balance on commuting, and demonstrates how to measure this balance using Virginia data.

The research suggests that the Code requirement may be satisfied by using the ratio of jobs to labor force, as this ratio is highly correlated with the job-to-housing ratio (based on examining 1980, 1990, and 2000 data) and is computationally feasible, at the jurisdictional level, on an annual basis.  Alternative approaches for satisfying the requirements of the Code are also described in the report; these alternative approaches require additional effort but may be productive in certain circumstances.

A simple longitudinal model developed using changes in Virginia jurisdiction commute time from 1990 through 2000 estimates that the average impact of a given urban jurisdiction improving its balance by 20% is a reduction in commute time of about 2 minutes.  This effect is evident only if several factors, such as the manner in which the urban region is defined, are carefully controlled.  Otherwise, there is no significant impact of a change in jobs/housing balance on a given jurisdiction’s commute time.  This finding is within the wide range of impacts of jobs/housing balance noted in the literature.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.

Last updated: November 17, 2023

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