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Angelenos Are Quitting Their Jobs Because Of Commute Times

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Heavy traffic clogs the 101 Freeway as people leave work for the Labor Day holiday in Los Angeles. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)
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Like every Angeleno ever, Allen Prom has hated on this city's soul-crushing traffic. But he's also done something that maybe a lot of us only fantasize about doing: he quit his job in favor of a shorter commute.

Prom grew up in South Dakota, where "our idea of traffic was being stuck behind a tractor." After he moved to L.A. five years ago to marry his longtime, long-distance girlfriend, he knew "it was crazy to be in traffic for two hours of the day, stuck on the 101 or the 405."

But he did it anyway, for three long years commuting from his home in Reseda to his job as a kitchen supervisor at the University of Southern California in downtown L.A. Eventually, he just couldn't take it anymore.

Turns out, Prom isn't alone. A lot of people in LA are leaving their jobs based on how long it takes to get there: according to a new survey from the carpool app, Scoop, 24 percent of them. Scoop's chief executive, Rob Sadow, said it was the highest percentage of any metropolitan area in the United States. The national average is 17 percent, based on the Scoop survey of 7,000 people in 16 major metropolitan areas.

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From State of the American Commute report, a survey conducted by Scoop, a carpool sharing app. The report looked at 16 metropolitan areas. This chart shows LA's results.

But quitting their jobs isn't the only thing people are doing because of travel times.

"Over 60 percent of people say that they are not applying for particular jobs because of the commute required to get to them," Sadow said.

Alex Ramirez quit her job in April because of the commute. For two years, she spent four hours each day commuting from her home in Sherman Oaks to her job at a call center in downtown Los Angeles, most of it on the 101.

"The freeways here are just ridiculous," she said.

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"I was getting burnt out from driving so much and having to do all the chores at two households," said Ramirez, who works full time and also cares for her mother-in-law.

For a while, Ramirez sucked it up, passing her time behind the wheel listening to podcasts and books on tape. But then she'd had enough.

"I was really just not wanting to spend so much time on the road, and that's what encouraged me to start looking for employment here in the Valley," said Ramirez. She has since found a job as a chef at a nursing facility, which has cut her commute time by more than half.

"It's given me a lot more time with my family. A lot more leisure time to be able to recharge my batteries," Ramirez said.

The Scoop survey found that people would spend more time exercising, socializing with family and friends or getting more sleep if they had a shorter commute.

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Maybe that's because, as the survey found, commuting causes personal stress every day for 33 percent of L.A. commuters.

"It's a drain on your happiness," said Prom, whose commute time is now nonexistent. Today, he operates an online Cambodian-American hot sauce business from his home, where he can also care for his one-year-old son.

Now, instead of "coming home and being exhausted and not wanting to do anything because I would be drained," he said, "we go on morning hikes. I get to make lunch at home. I make dinner for us. Two hours of the day, you can get a lot done."