New data from traffic analysis firm INRIX revealed that congestion increased 9.3% on U.S. roads in May, which the company says is a good indicator of overall improvement in the national economy. This conclusion is further supported by a 0.6% month-over-month increase in retail sales, including a 1.8% boom in automobile sales.
National gridlock rose to a level of 7.2 on the INRIX Gridlock Index for the month, meaning that drivers in the 100 most populated areas spent more than 7% more time on the road due to congestion.
Breaking down the numbers by region, the Western U.S. saw the greatest year-over-year congestion increases at 15.7%. The Northeast was second at 11.2%, followed by the Midwest at 9.1% and the South at a mere 2.4%.
To further tie the traffic increases to improved economic health, INRIX cited revised Federal Reserve numbers projecting unemployment to fall to the 7.2-7.3% range for the year, which is lower than the previously forecasted 7.3-7.5%.