This “commuting creep” is changing the lives of tens of millions of Americans. It affects everything from the breakfast-food industry to television viewership trends, from traffic-signal timing to newspaper delivery times, from carpooling patterns to personal fitness routines. Increasingly early commutes also are altering workers’ relationships with their families. Tim Lomax, a research engineer with the Texas Transportation Institute, a research agency in College Station, Texas, said research suggests civic involvement is down in suburbs where workers have long commutes. “After a long commute, people are less interested in going to a city council or parent-teacher-association meeting,” Lomax said. “(Commutes) mean time away from family, and time in a stressful environment which results in a toll on people.” The alternative, though, can be sitting in ever-lengthening rush hours. “It’s a coping strategy ? it’s not because they love to go to work early.” James Moore, a professor in USC’s School of Policy Planning and Development, said the higher rate of Los Angeles commuters hitting the freeways early is a measure of the region’s jammed freeways. “It’s a mechanism to try to escape congestion.” Moore said for most people time on the freeway is viewed as wasted when it could have been used to make money or enjoy time at the gym, or other recreational activities. “Nobody travels for the sake of travel unless it’s a teenager out tearing up the concrete.” In Los Angeles, executives may try to minimize time on the road by getting up early, while many companies offer flexible schedules to encourage other workers to get to the watercooler hours earlier. “There’s a lot of lifestyle choice in travel behavior,” Moore said. The Census Bureau’s latest release included a host of demographic data about the nation, county and city including statistics on immigration, housing, education and employment. The data come from the American Community Survey, an annual survey of 3 million households that has replaced the Census Bureau’s long-form questionnaire from the once-a-decade census. It does not distinguish between illegal immigrants and those who are in the U.S. legally. It shows the number of immigrants nationwide reached an all-time high of 37.5 million in 2006, affecting incomes and education levels in many cities across the country. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! By Stephen Ohlemacher THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON – Commuters in Los Angeles and around the country are leaving home earlier and earlier to beat the rush and get to work on time, according to new census data released today. The figures document the ever-lengthening commutes: In 2000, one U.S. worker in nine was out the door by 6 a.m., the new data says; by 2006, it was one in eight. That might not seem like a big change, but it has put more than 3 million additional drivers – for a total of 16.7 million – on pre-dawn patrol. In Los Angeles County, where one of eight commuters was leaving for work before 6 a.m. in 2000, the number rose to one in seven. At the same time, the number of commuters jumped nearly 14 percent, from 3,724,107 commuters to 4,237,760, the data shows. The trend was mirrored in the city of Los Angeles, where nearly one in 10 motorists were on the freeways before 6 a.m. in 2000. By 2006, the number of sunrise commuters had climbed to one in 8.4, while the number of workers getting a jump on their day leaped from 1,433,200 to 1,640,300. Men last year in Los Angeles were more likely to be out the door at dawn: almost one in seven in the city, and one per 5.5 in the county. Working women, who experts said are more likely to be tied by children to a later daily routine, got a later start: one in 13 in the city and one in 11 in the county left home before 6 a.m.