One of the great things about the Yakima Valley is our lack of serious traffic problems. Still, there is a tradeoff for our freeway flexibility.  Ask our biggest neighbor to the west. Seattle is on the top 10 list for worst traffic.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

One way to look at it is like this:

When is good news bad news? When the bad news is increased traffic jams resulting from the good news of economic recovery.  Many of the U.S. cities on a worst traffic list enjoyed robust gains in employment last year, including: San Jose, Calif., at 3.4 percent; Austin, Texas at 2.8 percent; Seattle, at 2.6 percent; and Boston at 2.1 percent. Not coincidentally, these areas also saw their populations swell as additional workers relocated to help fill the additional jobs, with Austin topping the list at a 6.6 percent increase.

Here’s where drivers suffer the worst congestion and the average number of hours they waste sitting in traffic over a year’s time:

1. Los Angeles: 64 hours

2. Honolulu: 60 hours

3. San Francisco: 56 hours

4. New York: 53 hours

5. Bridgeport, Conn.: 42 hours

6. Austin, Texas: 41 hours

7. Washington, D.C.: 40 hours

8. Boston: 38 hours

9. Seattle: 37 hours

10. San Jose, Calif.: 35 hours

Source: INRIX Traffic Scorecard 2014

Don’t expect the situation to improve anytime soon, either. With people continuing to congregate in urban centers, the United Nations predicts that 70 percent of the world’s population will live in or near larger cities by 2050, which is up from about 50 percent today – we’ll see even more cars on the road. Ford estimates the number of autos on the world’s thoroughfares will rise from around a billion today to as many as 4 billion by 2050. World-class traffic tie-ups like the 2-3 hour daily commutes currently seen in Sao Paulo, Brazil, could become common both here in the U.S. and elsewhere around the globe.