More city workers commuting, census shows

Manassas resident Paul “Monty” Lynch, 46, leaves home at 6 a.m. each morning to beat rush hour traffic as he drives to his job as a building inspections administrator in Fairfax County.

“Theres a 15 minute window,” he said. “If I leave before it, I can make it to work in a half an hour.”

There was a time more than 18 years ago when Lynch, who has spent most of his life living in Manassas, also worked in the city. But when a solar heating company he worked for started having trouble, Fairfax County, and its booming job market, beckoned.

Lynchs story is far from unusual. Over the last decade, Fairfax County became the largest employer for Manassas residents, according to recently released Census 2000 data. In 1990, the largest chunk of working-age Manassas residents, 34.2 percent, also worked in the city. But by 2000, 28.4 percent worked in Fairfax County, with only 24.7 percent working in Manassas.

The numbers reflect a region where the majority of residents now work at locations different from where they live. They also suggest Manassas changed by explosive growth in its population, which increased from 27,957 in 1990 to 35,814 in 2001.

Stephen Fuller, a public policy professor at George Mason University, says many of the households in Manassas, as well as the entire region, now have two workers, which makes it much harder for people to live near where they work.

“Suburbanization has arrived,” he said. “And the suburban household is a two-person household.”

Manassas has attracted new residents that are younger and often better educated, Fuller said. And many are looking to retail and professional jobs to the north.

“They like Manassas,” he said. “But theyve found much better jobs outside the city limits.”

For Deborah Hyman, 34, Manassas proved to be an ideal location for herself and her husband when they moved out of their Lake Ridge home three years ago. Since the move, Hyman has had a one-hour drive to McLean, where she works as a spokeswoman for Freddie Mac. Her husband, whos in the Army, is stationed at Fort Belvoir.

Hyman says the lower cost of homes was a big draw. And with a son and a nephew, both teenagers, the quality of the school system, which was fully accredited by the state this year, was a bonus.

“I think its a great place to live,” she said.

Its the same type of sentiment that led Eugene R. Rainville, 57, to move to the city 16 years ago, after his retirement from the Air Force.

“I had a friend who was also retiring from the Air Force who told me what a great place Manassas was to live,” he said.

Since the move, Rainville has worked in Fairfax County, even as he became active in various city committees. In 1999, he was appointed to the City Council. He won election by his own right in 2000.

As for Lynch, he may be known as “Paul” when hes at work. But back in Manassas, everyone calls him “Monty,” a nickname hes had since his schooldays in the city.

Living in an Old Town house thats only a few blocks from where he grew up, Lynch has stayed active in the community, serving on city committees and volunteering for the Manassas Museum System. Last Valentines Day, his wife gave birth to a daughter at Prince William Hospital.

Lynch says hes felt proud to see Manassas grow. And hes glad to live near a revitalized downtown with restaurants and shops.

“People who havent been down there for a while wouldnt be able to recognize it,” he said.

Similar Posts