Census details daytime exodus
John Orkwis doesn't consider his daily drive into Leavenworth a commute.
But the U.S. Census Bureau does.
According to a recent Census Report, Orkwis and about 1,500 other people a day "commute" from the city, leaving Lansing with what the government calls an "estimated daytime population" of 7,665 people. In other words, 16.7 percent of the population leaves the city each day for work elsewhere.
The estimates are based on answers to the 2000 Census long form, which asked respondents whether their place of work was inside the city limits of their hometown.
Orkwis, who works for defense contractor Northrop Grumman, makes the 15-minute drive from his Lansing home each day into Leavenworth. Despite what the government might call him, Orkwis says his trip is not a commute.
"I would consider Kansas City a commute," he said earlier this week.
Jeannette Holderman makes the drive into Kansas City, Mo., four days a week for her job with the U.S. Department of Commerce, and she admits she is a commuter. The number of workers who leave Lansing each day for a job elsewhere doesn't surprise her, she said.
"We really don't have any kind of industry or stores where we can work," Holderman said. "It has become a bedroom community."
Holderman, who has lived in Lansing for 33 years and commuted to Kansas City the past 18 years, said there was nothing wrong with the notion of Lansing being a bedroom community.
"We've got good schools and it's a good place to live," she said.
But as for working, she's found greener pastures deeper in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
"I have to tell you honestly: It's for financial reasons; I could make more money in Kansas City or Overland Park or Olathe," she said.
Holderman said others are of like minds judging from the license plates in the parking lot outside the federal building where she works.
"There's quite a few Leavenworth County tags," she said.
Mike Smith, Lansing's city administrator, said Lansing had grown since the 2000 Census was taken - it listed Lansing's total population at 9,199; the bureau's latest estimate puts the city at 10,117. But Smith said he knew many Lansing residents leave the city during the day to get to work.
"There's no doubt. They work on post, in Leavenworth, in Kansas City," he said.
That's why, he said, one of the goals of the City Council is to expand the city's job base, so that there are job opportunities in the city for residents.
"We'd like to have people be able to both live and work in our community," he said.
Holderman noted that technological advances also could play a part in reducing the daily outflow of Lansing residents to their out-of-town workplaces.
"More and more people are telecommuting," she said, noting that she does her job one day a week from her home with the help of a computer and a secure network connection. "That may be something that allows more people to work in their homes."
Daytime population in area cities
City, 2000 population, Estimated daytime population, Percent difference
Bonner Springs, 6,768, 6,046, -10.7
Kansas City, Kan., 146,886, 156,540, 6.6
Lansing, 9,199, 7,665, -16.7
Lawrence, 80,098, 79,159, -1.2
Leavenworth, 35,420, 37,772, 6.6
Olathe, 92,962, 83,071, -10.6
Overland Park, 149,080, 175,506, 17.7
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