Survey: Last Year, Nearly Half of DC’s Workforce Worked Remotely

The amount of US workers who primarily work from home tripled between 2019 and 2021, the census found.
Adam Rowe

Remote work has surged since 2019, going by the latest numbers out from the U.S. Census Bureau, with the number of remote workers in the US tripling within two years. Work-from-home gigs jumped from roughly 9 million people in 2019 to 27.6 million in 2021.

The District of Columbia has the largest amount of remote workers, with a full 48.3% of its workforce operating from the comfort of their own homes. Follow-up states include Washington, Maryland, Colorado, and Massachusetts, all of which reported around 24% working remotely.

It's the highest number since the first Bureau launched its American Community Survey (ACS) back in 2005, and a clear sign that remote work will remain in the country's future.

In Other Unsurprising News: Commute Times Are Down

With millions of commuters now staying home for the start of their day, the rest of the commuters are enjoying emptier roads and quicker trips to and from their workplace.

“In 2021, about 68% of workers drove alone to work, compared to roughly 76% in 2019. This corresponded to nearly 15 million fewer people commuting alone by private vehicle — 119,153,349 in 2019 compared to 104,650,121 in 2021.” ~US Census Bureau

The average one-way travel time to work for Americans was just 25.6 minutes in 2021, the ACS found. That number is the shortest commute time across the last decade, and a solid two minutes shorter than the 27.6 minute average recorded for 2019.

Employment Rates Have Slipped Since 2019

It's not all good news, though. Not as many Americans are employed full time in 2021 as they were in 2019.

Among US workers between the age of 16 and 64, the percentage that worked full-time for all 12 of the past months was 50.5% in 2021, down nearly two and a half percentage point from 52.9% in 2019. Between those two dates, the national unemployment rate among those age 16 and older rose from 4.5% to 6.3%.

Will Remote Work Keep Growing, Stay Steady, or Drop Off?

The Bureau doesn't offer any potential explanations for the rise in unemployment, though one may come to mind. Some scientists have recently been warning of a “silent” Covid crisis, long Covid, which affects 20% of those who recover from even a mild case of acute Covid and often results in a debilitating brain fog.

If long Covid is whittling down the US workforce, there's one clear stop-gap solution: Working remotely.

Our country's lawmakers should be well aware of the benefits of working from home, too, given that their home in question is Washington, DC — the one location that's head and shoulders above the rest of the nation when to comes to working remotely.

Every business that wants to catch up with Washington, DC shouldn't find it difficult. Pick out a remote access software, settle on a company-wide password management service, and keep those census numbers up for 2022.

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Adam is a writer at Tech.co and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He's also a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and he has an art history book on 1970s sci-fi coming out from Abrams Books in 2022. In the meantime, he's hunting own the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.

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