Working at Home Here to Stay

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report in June that indicates that the percentage of people working at home, which grew rapidly during the pandemic, is still much higher today than before the pandemic.

The U.S. Census and the Bureau gather this data by interviewing thousands of workers and asking how they spent the previous 24 hours. The survey not only gathers information on work habits, but also statistics on time spent on leisure, housework, and other activities.

Here are some of the key statistics from that report:

  • 34% of workers did some or all of their work from home in 2022. That has dropped – during the pandemic, 42% of workers worked at home in 2020 and 38% in 2021. But before the pandemic, the percentage of workers who worked at home was 24% in 2018 and 2019.
  • Working at home seems to be tied to having higher levels of education. 54% of adults over 25 years old with a bachelor’s degree or higher worked at home in 2022 compared to 18% of those with a high school diploma or no degree.
  • Women are more likely to work from home. 41% of women worked from home in 2022 compared to 28% of men.
  • The average person who said they were working from home did so for 5.4 hours per day.

Most labor experts are interpreting the survey results to mean that there has been a permanent shift in the way that people work. In 2022, there were 42% more people working at home than before the pandemic. To put that statistic into perspective, there are roughly 164 million adults in the U.S. workforce. This means that in 2022, almost 56 million people worked at home, up from 39 million before the pandemic. That’s an increase of over 16 million additional people working from home.

It’s possibly a little early to predict where the percentage of those working from home will stabilize, but it seems unlikely that the percentage will ever return to the pre-pandemic levels.

The statistics show a big gap in those working at home by education level. There are three times as many people with a bachelor’s degree or higher working at home than those without. It’s not too hard to conjecture that a lot of those working from home are likely to be working on computers and needing a good broadband connection.

The disparity between the percentage of men and women working at home probably has a lot to do with the daycare crisis in the country. I’ve read numerous articles describing the cost and the difficulty of finding daycare. In those articles, many women talk about working at home as a way to cope with daycare issues.

I’ve seen several other surveys over the last year that have interviewed generation Z and millennial workers, and a large percentage of these generations do not want to work in the classic office environment. I have to think over the next decade that this trend will continue to nudge the percentage of folks who work at home even higher.

My consulting firm conducts a lot of interviews about broadband usage, and we are still finding a lot of homes that don’t have adequate broadband for working at home or for students doing homework. I regularly participate in online discussions with folks working from home with a poor broadband connection who struggle to maintain an online chat session. I have to think that as we bring better broadband to millions of rural locations, the percentage of homes that will include somebody working at home will continue to climb.

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