A new report from the National Bureau of Economic Research has found that working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic won’t be an option for two-thirds of American workers.
Researchers found a strong association between the ability to work remotely with high wage positions, while sectors such as hospitality and agriculture would be harder hit, according to the report, conducted on behalf of NBER by Jonathan I. Dingel and Brent Neiman of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
The study, which shows that only 37 percent of American jobs can be transitioned to telecommuting, provides ‘an important input to predicting the economy’s performance during this or subsequent periods of social distancing.’
Just 37 percent of all US jobs will be able to transition to work-from-home conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report from the National Bureau of Economic Research
The report is also meant to help identify which industries will be hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic and could be targeted for social insurance payments and other forms of governmental support.
The team looked at answers from a national employment survey which asked Americans to describe the types of activities their jobs entailed on a daily basis.
This information was then compared with data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics about different US industrial sectors, and then analyzed to produce the final breakdown.
The team says its numbers almost certainly overstate how many American jobs can be done from home because they tried to apply to the most liberal interpretation of job descriptions from the survey and BLS statistics.
They found a strong association between the ability to work from home and high wage positions, with the 37 percent of US jobs that can plausibly be done from home accounting for more than 46 percent of all US wages.
Education services was the sector with the highest percentage of jobs that could be done remotely, with 83 percent able to be done from home.
Two of the top five most friendly cities in the US for telecommuters were in the Bay Area in California, spanning San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, and other outlying exurbs. The region with the least amount of telecommuter-ready jobs was Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida
Other industries that were most amenable to working from home included finance and insurance, corporate management, professional services, and information technology.
The least adaptable industry was accommodation and food services, which includes hotels and restaurant workers, where just four percent of the jobs could be done remotely.
Other industries with the least amount of remote jobs included retail, construction, agriculture, transportation, and warehousing.
The report looked at 100 metropolitan clusters across the US to measure the percentage of jobs in each that could be transitioned to telecommuting (map above), with a darker color indicating a higher percentage and a lighter color indicating fewer telecommuter-friendly jobs
According to the study, the cities with the highest number of jobs that could be done through telecommuting tended to be in metropolitan clusters.
The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metropolitan region of California was the most friendly place in the country for telecommuters, with 51 percent of the region’s jobs coming from positions that could be done from home.
The rest of the top five were Washington DC-Arlington-Alexandria; Durham-Chapel Hill, NC; Austin-Round Rock, TX; and San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA.
The least hospitable region for telecommuters was Cape Coral-Fort Myers in Florida, where just 28 percent of local jobs could be done from home.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have grown more than 100 times in the last 30 days, with a total of 383,260 as of April 7, 2020
The other cities in the bottom five included Stockton-Lodi, CA; Bakersfield, CA; Lancaster, PA; and Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI.
The team says it’s still to early to predict how the shift to widespread telecommuting will affect the country overall, but with more than 9.95million new unemployment claims filed in the US over the last two weeks, it’s clear the change will be devastating for many.
Even for those industries that can transition to telecommuting, there may be significant drop-offs in productivity.
As the team argues, ‘it is not straightforward to use these values to estimate the share of output that would be produced under stringent stay-at-home policies. An individual worker’s productivity may differ considerably when working at home rather than her usual workplace.’
The US COVID-19 outbreak has risen rapidly in the last month, reaching 383,260 confirmed cases as of April 7, 2020
Daily deaths in the US due to COVID-19 have shot up to over 1,000