Sep 15, 2022 - Economy

The number of people working remotely tripled during COVID

Change in share of people working from home from 2019 to 2021
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Map: Simran Parwani/Axios

The number of people primarily working from home tripled between 2019 and 2021, per survey results released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Why it matters: The new figures provide a fresh look into how the pandemic upended how Americans work, play and live.

By the numbers: 17.9% of people primarily worked from home in 2021, compared with 5.7% in 2019, per the survey results.

  • Nearly half, 48.3%, of workers in Washington, D.C., worked from home in 2021, the highest percentage of remote workers in the country, per the Census Bureau.
  • The states with the highest percentage of residents working from home were Washington, Maryland and Colorado, all around 24%.
  • The average commuting time by private vehicle in 2021 was on average two minutes shorter than in 2019, per the data.

Between the lines: The Census Bureau said last year that it would not use its 1-year estimates from 2020 "because of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on data collection."

  • The newly released survey results provide one of the most reliable indications yet of the pandemic's impact on Americans' work-from-home habits.

What they're saying: "Work and commuting are central to American life, so the widespread adoption of working from home is a defining feature of the COVID-19 pandemic," Michael Burrows, a statistician in the Census Bureau’s Journey-to-Work and Migration Statistics Branch, said in a statement.

  • "With the number of people who primarily work from home tripling over just a two-year period, the pandemic has very strongly impacted the commuting landscape in the United States."

Go deeper... Remote work may not be working any more

Editor's note: This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Go deeper