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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new survey indicates as many as 23 million Americans — more than 10% of the adult population — are planning to move as a result of remote work, mostly to cheaper and less dense places.

Why it matters: The sudden shift to remote work has freed up many Americans from having to live in or near the costly urban centers where job growth had been concentrated. But businesses and major cities will struggle to adjust to the changes.

By the numbers: According to the survey of more than 20,000 Americans by the freelancing platform Upwork, near-term migration levels may be three-to-four times higher than the normal level.

  • 54.7% of people are moving two hours or more from where they currently live, which puts them out of daily or even weekly commuting range — indicating that many likely aren't planning on commuting at all in the future.

What they're saying: "Expensive, central cities will suffer from this exodus," says Adam Ozimek, Upwork's chief economist and the author of the report.Context: In general, carbon footprints increase as people move from dense cities to suburbs or rural areas, where dwellings are larger and driving is more necessary.

  • However, if most of those moving are working from home rather than commuting, that could offset any increases, and may even have a positive impact, says Ozimek.
  • While a number of firms have talked about a hybrid working system going forward, the fact that so many employees are planning to move hours away from their current workplace "suggests that many people desire a fully remote work style," says Ozimek.

The bottom line: Given the opportunity of remote work, Americans are showing they want to move to cheaper, larger housing.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Nov 25, 2020 - Technology

Remote learners may suffer in the new economy

An empty classroom in New York City, which closed its schools earlier this month because of rising COVID-19 levels. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

School districts are reporting declining grades as students struggle to adjust to the challenges of remote education.

Why it matters: It's bad enough that many children around the country are receiving sub-par remote schooling. But in an economy that will increasingly reward cognitive skills, those struggling today risk being left behind permanently.

Dave Lawler, author of World
4 mins ago - World

Belarus dictator Lukashenko says he'll leave post after new constitution

Photo: Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty

Longtime Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has said he will step down after a new constitution comes into force, according to Belarusian state media.

Why it matters: Lukashenko has faced three months of protests following a rigged election in August. He has promised to reform the constitution to reduce the near-absolute powers of the president, but has insisted that his strong hand is needed to see that process through.

2 hours ago - World

Iran confirms assassination of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadhe

The Iranian ministry of defense issued a statement on Friday confirming the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadhe, an Iranian scientist and the architect behind the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program.

Why it matters: Fakhrizadhe was the head of the Amad project in the Iranian ministry of defense, which focused on developing a nuclear bomb until 2003.