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Justin Fox

Working From Home Is Not an Urban Escape Hatch

Contrary to popular perception, the nation’s WFH hotbeds are big-city neighborhoods and expensive suburbs, not mountain retreats and beach cottages.

Probably still close to the office. 

Probably still close to the office. 

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

The mass shift to remote work during the pandemic allowed people with professional and management jobs to do them effectively from mountaintop aeries, beachfront cottages and exotic foreign locales. Mainly, though, it seems to have enabled residents of big-city neighborhoods and close-in suburbs to avoid going to offices that were in some cases within walking distance of their homes.

These numbers are from the 2021 edition of the American Community Survey, a sort of mini-census that the US Census Bureau sends out to 3.5 million households each year. They come in response to the multiple-choice question, asked of household members who were already reported to have performed paid work the previous week: “How did this person usually get to work LAST WEEK?”