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Data: Upwork and U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

After years of U.S. commutes growing longer and longer, the pandemic has kept millions of office road warriors at home — and the financial benefits are significant.

Why it matters: Commuting was costing American workers an increasing amount of time, money and life satisfaction. After a glimpse of life without the daily slog, workers may not want to go back to normal, which could have major effects on cities around the country.

By the numbers: In a survey released Thursday, the freelancing platform Upwork found that those who were working remotely because of COVID-19 were saving an average 49.6 minutes a day because they were no longer commuting.

  • For the majority who commuted by car, staying off the roads has saved $758 million a day in time, fuel and health costs, which adds up to more than $90 billion since mid-March.

Background: This change comes after years of ever-lengthening commutes, which had increased by an average of almost 11 minutes a day since 1980, or two full days a year.

Be smart: Those savings are one reason why many surveys — like this one from the New York Times — have found that most workers are quite satisfied with working from home.

  • "Now that many have seen what it can be like without a commute, I don't anticipate most [workers] are eager to rush back to the office," says Adam Ozimek, Upwork's chief economist.
  • While workers in outer-orbit bedroom communities like East Stroudsburg, Pa., have saved the most time, Ozimek sees expensive housing areas like the New York and San Francisco metros — which also average long commutes — being hit hardest by the remote work shift.

The bottom line: If workers can save time and companies can save money by abandoning the central workplace, offices may not be coming back soon.

Go deeper

Oct 8, 2020 - Health

Employer health coverage costs still outpace wages

Reproduced from Kaiser Family Foundation; Chart: Axios Visuals

The cost of job-based health insurance averaged more than $21,000 for families and almost $7,500 for individuals in 2020 — roughly 4% higher than 2019, according to new survey data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The big picture: These costs only accounted for coverage offered heading into 2020, and therefore didn't factor in the coronavirus pandemic. And although the 4% growth rate was the lowest since 2017, it still exceeded the average growth of workers' wages (3.4%) and general inflation (2.1%) — meaning employer health care continues to eat away at people's budgets.

16 mins ago - Podcasts

How hospitals are prepping for the new COVID-19 surge

Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are surging, particularly in areas that had been largely spared this spring. One big question now is whether hospitals are better prepared for this new wave, including if they'll be able to continue providing elective services.

Axios Re:Cap digs into what hospitals have, and what they still need, with Lloyd Dean, CEO of CommonSpirit Health, one of America's largest operators of hospitals and health clinics.

Updated 24 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: The good and bad news about antibody therapies — U.S. sets new single-day case record.
  2. Politics: States beg for Warp Speed billions.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local cases.
  4. Education: Surge threatens to shut classrooms down again.
  5. Technology: The pandemic isn't slowing tech.
  6. Travel: CDC replaces COVID-19 cruise ban with less restrictive "conditional sailing order."
  7. Sports: High school football's pandemic struggles.
  8. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.