Nearly 30 Percent of Work Remains Remote

Nearly 30 percent of all work happened at home in January, six times the rate in 2019, according to WFH Research, a data-collection project. In Washington and other large urban centers, the share of remote work is closer to half. The Hill reports: The COVID-19 pandemic transformed the American workplace. The share of all work performed at home rose from 4.7 percent in January 2019 to 61 percent in May 2020. Some economists consider the remote-work boom the greatest change to the labor market since World War II. In 2021 and 2022, employers gradually summoned American workers back to the office. Last spring, the back-to-the-office movement hit a wall, and the work-from-home population stabilized around 30 percent.

A slim majority of Americans are back in the office for good. Many never left. That group includes the restaurant and retail sectors, factory and warehouse workers, bartenders and farmers. “Fifty-five percent of Americans can’t work from home,” [said Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford University economist and WFH researcher]. “They all would like to work from home. They can’t.” A much smaller group, around 13 percent, work entirely from home. They include many IT and payroll workers, contractors and people who pick up the phone when you call customer service. The remaining 30 percent of U.S. employees populate a vast “hybrid” workforce. They are the bulk of suburban, white-collar America, mostly college graduates, comparatively well-paid.

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