Sep 19, 2023 - News

Remote work declines in Arkansas after pandemic highs

Data: U.S. Census; Chart: Axios Visuals

13.8% of Northwest Arkansas workers were working from home as of 2022, compared to 17% in 2021, per new U.S. Census Bureau figures released last week.

The big picture: Workers in America's biggest, most competitive cities aren't giving up the flexibility and savings — in both time and gas money — of working from home.

Zoom out: Overall, 15% of the country's workforce toiled from home last year — but numbers are much higher on both the East and West coasts, and in other large metros.

  • Boulder, Colorado, had the highest share of remote workers of any metro area last year at 32%, with Denver close behind.
  • San Francisco and San Jose, California, were both in the top 10. Their main rival for tech jobs — Austin, Texas — was even higher.
  • Just over 25% of Washington, D.C., works remote — highest of any city and above that of any state.

The other side: Mississippi has the lowest share of remote workers in the U.S., at just 5.5%, and the Southeast generally is well below the national average.

  • Even so, every state has more remote workers now than it did in 2019 —before the COVID-19 pandemic struck early in 2020.
  • And even after two years, the trend line is barely moving. Nationwide, the share of people working from home declined by less than 3 percentage points between 2021 and 2022, according to the Census figures.

What we're watching: The work-from-home revolution is most entrenched in big cities with large concentrations of office buildings, as well as downtown economies that survived because of those office buildings being full.

  • Any number of large employers, from big banks in New York all the way up to the federal government, have tried to get their employees back to the office. For the most part, they've failed.
  • The solution seems more likely to come from ambitious redevelopment projects — converting office towers into residential buildings and central business districts into mixed-use neighborhoods.

That work is complex, difficult and extremely expensive, but it's already underway in several cities.

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