Earning

How many Americans are working from home? Not as many as you may think

Less than a quarter of employed Americans are working from home every day. Workers with college degrees are more than twice as likely to be telecommuting than those without.

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Since stay-at-home orders began in mid-March, the internet has been awash in articles about how Americans are adapting to this "new normal." Plenty of sites have offered advice on how to be productive from home, interview from home, and maintain work-life balance.

But it turns out not that many people are actually telecommuting. According to the Real-Time Population Survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, only 24% of employed workers were working from home every day in August, while an additional 18% did so some days.

Even back in May, the first month the survey was issued and before many states began reopening, only 35% were working from home full time.

This is still well above the 8% of workers who were telecommuting before the pandemic, but it may be less than all the trend pieces implied.

White workers and those with college degrees are far more likely to be working from home. In August, 26% of White workers were telecommuting every day, while only 9.4% of Black and 19.2% of Hispanic workers were doing the same.

Additionally, more than 1 in 3 (38%) workers with college degrees were working remotely, while only 1 in 10 employees with a high school education or less were doing so.

Percent of current workforce working from home
kiersten schmidt/grow Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Many of the industries with the lowest share of employees working from home were those that usually don't require a college degree — construction, transportation, and warehousing, and hotel and food services — while finance and professional services had the most people telecommuting.

Percent working from home in August
kiersten schmidt/grow Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

The majority of people who have been working from home would like to continue doing so at least a few days per week, according to a June survey by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Almost a third (32%) of workers said they don't want to go back to the office even after the pandemic is over, while about half (51%) said they'd like to continue working from home at least a few days per week.

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