This may be the end of the work-from-home economy

  • The June jobs report found fewer than 15% of workers were remote.
  • This is down from the 35% of people who were working from home in May.
  • Although remote work is decreasing, many people still want the option to stay at home.

The number of people with jobs might have increased in June, but remote work decreased, suggesting a possible end to what became the norm for working during the pandemic.

The June jobs report went beyond expectations, adding 850,000 payrolls accompanied by higher wages, mainly in the leisure and hospitality sectors. But beyond job growth, another notable data point from the report is the transition from remote work to in-person work. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, 35% of people were working from home in May 2020, and in June, the percentage was cut by more than half, with only 14% of people doing remote work.

Major companies are beginning to require that workers return to work over the next few months. For example, Apple is requiring most workers to return to the office in September, and Goldman Sachs has been requiring workers to come into the office since June 14. But given the push to return to in-person work, many companies are still struggling to hire, and as Insider reported, higher wages might be the solution to remedying the labor shortage. 

The chief economist at hiring site Indeed, Jed Kolko, noted on Twitter that some sectors that are highly remote, like technology and software, have returned to near pre-pandemic levels of working from home. Others that are traditionally in-person, such as hospitality, are still far from returning to baseline levels.

Even though remote work is decreasing, as the jobs report found, what was once a high in-person sector will likely never return to fully in-person work. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said his employees could work from home forever if they prefer that option, and there are larger issues at hand. For example, as Insider’s Dominic-Madori Davis reported, some Black women feel safer working from home, where they are able to avoid some instances of workplace racism and sexism.

A Morning Consult survey also found that 39% of workers would consider quitting if their bosses weren’t flexible about working from home, suggesting a return to pre-pandemic levels of office work is unlikely.

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