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Justin Fox

Who’s Still Working at Home? You, Probably

Highly paid professionals generally haven’t gone back to the office yet, and their local economies are paying the price.

Spending time here means less money spent elsewhere.

Spending time here means less money spent elsewhere.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

In May, Census Bureau survey-takers started asking Americans if they were working at home because of the coronavirus, and 35.4% of employed persons said yes. That percentage dropped in subsequent months, but as data released as part of Friday’s employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate, it hasn’t been dropping by all that much lately.

This does not include those who were already working from home before the pandemic. Estimates of the size of this group range from the 5.7% of U.S. workers who said they worked at home when the Census Bureau asked them about commuting patterns in 2019 to the upwards of 20% who have reported working at home at least some of the time in recent years in two BLS surveys. Yet another survey, conducted in April, found that 14.6% of employed persons had already been working at home and 34.1% had started doing so because of the pandemic, for a 48.7% total — although it’s important to note that huge numbers of people who couldn’t work from home had just been furloughed or laid off, and thus weren’t counted in the denominator.