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Rate of People Working From Home Shifts by Up to 65% in Past Year Depending on State — Here’s Where It’s Down (and Up)

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The COVID-19 pandemic forced many employees to work from home. Although some have returned to the office, remote work is here to stay for others.

We’re two years out from the stay-at-home orders mandated across the U.S., but the latest LendingTree study reveals that the percentage of people who’ve worked from home has remained relatively stable over the past year.

Using U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey data, we looked at how remote work has changed across the country. In addition to going over which states saw the biggest increases and decreases in the rate of remote workers, stick around for tips on establishing financial independence while working remotely.

Key findings

  • The percentage of people who’ve worked from home has remained relatively stable in the past year. 29.1% of Americans worked from home in the past seven days in October 2022, compared with 29.5% in October 2021 — a 1.2% year-over-year dip.
  • Wyoming, Arkansas and West Virginia saw the biggest year-over-year decreases in the rate of people working from home. Wyoming stands out, dropping from 24.6% in October 2021 to 14.9% in October 2022, plummeting 39.4%. The state now has the second-lowest rate of people working from home (only West Virginia is lower).
  • Rhode Island, South Dakota and Illinois saw the biggest year-over-year increases in the rate of people working from home. In Rhode Island, the rate skyrocketed 64.9% from 23.1% in October 2021 to 38.1% in October 2022. In this period, the state’s rate of people working from home jumped from the bottom 15 to No. 3 in the U.S.
  • Americans 25 to 39 years old are the only age group that saw a work-from-home increase between October 2021 and October 2022. The rate of 25- to 39-year-olds working from home is up 4.4% over the past year. The same rate among 18- to 24-year-olds is down 12.6% — the highest among the age groups.

The national rate of remote employees hasn’t changed much in the past year

Despite what Elon Musk may have you believe, work from home may be a permanent fixture for certain American employees — at least for the time being. The latest data indicates that the rate of remote work has remained relatively stable in the past year.

In October 2022, 29.1% of Americans worked from home in the past seven days. That compares with 29.5% in October 2021. All in all, that’s a minuscule 1.2% year-over-year dip.

According to LendingTree senior director of content Ismat Mangla, company leniency may play a role here. “I’m not surprised the rate of remote workers hasn’t changed much in the last year,” she says. “It seems like many companies have decided to keep their work-from-home policies in place, or at least allow the option while transitioning to a companywide return to the office.”

And some consumers simply prefer working from home. A 2022 Pew Research Center study found that more employees now compared to 2020 say they’re working from home by choice rather than necessity. ​​Many remote workers would like it to stay that way, too. The study found that 60% of those with jobs that can be done remotely would like to work from home all or most of the time when the COVID-19 pandemic is over. That’s up from 54% in 2020.

Rate of WFH employees dropped by 39.4% in Wyoming — here are the other states that saw the biggest decreases

By state, Wyoming saw the largest year-over-year decrease in the rate of remote workers, dropping from 24.6% in October 2021 to 14.9% in October 2022. That’s a decrease of 39.4%, placing it as the state with the second-lowest rate of remote workers in 2022.

The flexibility of remote work may explain the decline in work-from-home employees in Wyoming. In early 2021, when the shift to remote work seemed like a more permanent fixture in many employees’ lives, some left their high cost-of-living areas in exchange for states like Wyoming, which offered financial relief and ample outdoor recreation. In fact, Wyoming’s population grew by 0.3% between April 2020 and July 2021, according to the Census Bureau. That’s triple the national rate of 0.1%.

The change in the work-from-home rate may signify that these remote workers are now moving elsewhere, particularly as concerns for COVID-19 fade and the U.S. returns to a relatively new normal. In fact, a November 2022 study found that nearly a quarter of Wyoming residents offered a mortgage on the LendingTree platform this year were looking to relocate out of the state — the fourth-highest figure across the U.S.

Another reason for the change could be Wyoming’s economy. Mineral extraction and tourism are two of the largest industry sectors there. As more freely moving digital nomads may leave the state, remote work just isn’t possible for some of the workers who remain.

States with the biggest decreases in work-from-home employees

RankState% who worked from home in past 7 days, October 2021% who worked from home in past 7 days, October 2022% difference
1Wyoming24.6%14.9%-39.4%
2Arkansas21.8%15.6%-28.4%
3West Virginia15.6%11.3%-27.6%
4Iowa26.7%20.3%-24.0%
5Kentucky22.1%18.2%-17.6%
5Alabama23.3%19.2%-17.6%

Source: LendingTree analysis of U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey Week 39 (Sept. 29 to Oct. 11, 2021) and Week 50 (Oct. 5 to Oct. 17, 2022) data.

After Wyoming, Arkansas and West Virginia saw the biggest year-over-year decreases in the rate of people working from home. Like Wyoming, Arkansas’ low cost of living likely attracted remote workers from high cost-of-living areas at the height of the pandemic. In fact, Census Bureau data reveals the Arkansas population grew by 0.5% between April 2020 and July 2021.

Arkansas’ dominant industries — agriculture and transportation and logistics — also make remote work difficult.

Meanwhile, West Virginia already had a low rate of remote workers. Of those in the state, just 15.6% worked remotely in 2021 — the second-lowest of any state. And that rate fell even further to 11.3% in 2022 — the lowest across the U.S. Unlike Wyoming and Arkansas, the state population fell between April 2020 and July 2021, which means remote workers likely weren’t as enticed by West Virginia, despite its low cost of living. This state’s dominant industries — mining and manufacturing — also make remote work difficult nowadays.

Meanwhile, the rate of WFH employees jumped by 64.9% in Rhode Island

On the other end of the list, Rhode Island saw the biggest year-over-year increase in the rate of remote workers — skyrocketing from 23.1% in October 2021 to 38.1% in October 2022. With an increase of 64.9%, the state jumped from among the 15 states with the lowest rate of remote workers in 2021 to the third-highest percentage in the U.S. in 2022.

This comes as Rhode Island recently adopted a rule allowing the state’s lenders, brokers and servicer employees to work remotely as of late June 2022. Separately, a 2022 survey conducted by online job-seeking website FlexJobs revealed that Rhode Island has the highest ratio of remote jobs to job seekers.

South Dakota also saw a notable year-over-year increase in remote workers. The rate of remote workers increased from 16.7% in 2021 to 24.4% in 2022 — a jump of 26.1%. The state’s economy may explain this jump — with finance and insurance among the dominant industries in South Dakota, many of the state’s workers can likely find remote jobs.

In addition to Rhode Island and South Dakota, Illinois topped the increases: The rate of remote workers rose from 26.7% in 2021 to 33.1% in 2022. That’s an increase of 24.0%.

Full rankings: States with the biggest decreases in remote workers

RankState% who worked from home in past 7 days, October 2021% who worked from home in past 7 days, October 2022% difference
1Wyoming24.6%14.9%-39.4%
2Arkansas21.8%15.6%-28.4%
3West Virginia15.6%11.3%-27.6%
4Iowa26.7%20.3%-24.0%
5Kentucky22.1%18.2%-17.6%
5Alabama23.3%19.2%-17.6%
7South Carolina22.9%19.0%-17.0%
8Missouri28.1%23.5%-16.4%
9Delaware32.8%27.8%-15.2%
10Nevada23.6%20.1%-14.8%
11Arizona34.3%29.8%-13.1%
12Louisiana19.1%16.7%-12.6%
13Colorado39.4%34.9%-11.4%
14Oklahoma20.2%18.0%-10.9%
15Indiana24.7%22.4%-9.3%
16Utah37.2%34.3%-7.8%
16New York30.8%28.4%-7.8%
16Kansas27.0%24.9%-7.8%
19Minnesota38.2%35.3%-7.6%
20Connecticut31.6%29.3%-7.3%
20Hawaii24.8%23.0%-7.3%
22District of Columbia58.3%54.2%-7.0%
23New Mexico22.3%20.8%-6.7%
24Washington37.9%35.4%-6.6%
25Wisconsin24.8%23.3%-6.0%
26California34.4%32.4%-5.8%
26Maine29.4%27.7%-5.8%
28Alaska23.8%22.7%-4.6%
29Massachusetts39.6%38.0%-4.0%
30New Hampshire33.9%32.9%-2.9%
31Montana21.4%20.9%-2.3%
32Virginia36.2%35.4%-2.2%
33Nebraska26.6%26.1%-1.9%
34Michigan26.6%26.8%0.8%
35Pennsylvania29.1%29.6%1.7%
36Florida29.2%29.9%2.4%
37New Jersey32.4%33.2%2.5%
38Ohio26.7%27.6%3.4%
39North Dakota19.8%20.5%3.5%
40Vermont33.0%34.2%3.6%
41Mississippi15.2%15.9%4.6%
42Maryland39.2%41.3%5.4%
43Tennessee22.9%24.2%5.7%
44Idaho22.2%23.6%6.3%
45Oregon32.7%35.4%8.3%
46Georgia26.1%28.6%9.6%
47Texas27.6%31.5%14.1%
48North Carolina26.7%30.5%14.2%
49Illinois26.7%33.1%24.0%
50South Dakota16.7%24.4%46.1%
51Rhode Island23.1%38.1%64.9%

Source: LendingTree analysis of U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey Week 39 (Sept. 29 to Oct. 11, 2021) and Week 50 (Oct. 5 to Oct. 17, 2022) data.

How the rate of WFH employees has changed by age group

Americans 25 to 39 years old are the only age group that saw a work-from-home increase between October 2021 and October 2022. The rate of 25- to 39-year-olds working from home is up 4.4% over the past year. This group also has the highest rate of remote workers overall, with 40.5% reporting they’ve worked from home in the past seven days at the time of the survey.

Mangla attributes this to the personal milestone many Americans in this age group achieve. “I think this age group particularly benefits from work from home because they’re often just starting families and need that flexibility more than their younger or older counterparts,” she says.

How the rate of work-from-home employees has changed by age group

Age% who worked from home in past 7 days, October 2021% who worked from home in past 7 days, October 2022% difference
18 to 2430.3%26.5%-12.6%
25 to 3938.8%40.5%4.4%
40 to 5436.0%35.9%-0.3%
55 to 6427.7%25.8%-6.9%
65 and above13.4%12.5%-6.6%

Source: LendingTree analysis of U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey Week 39 (Sept. 29 to Oct. 11, 2021) and Week 50 (Oct. 5 to Oct. 17, 2022) data.

For 18- to 24-year-olds, however, the rate of remote workers is down 12.6% — signifying the biggest drop by age group. That may be because many Americans in this age group may still be in college, working entry-level jobs — which may be less willing to allow remote work compared to more experienced roles — or these young Americans may simply be more willing to compromise on their first job than other age groups.

Other demographics at a glance, from gender to household income

Gender

Gender% who worked from home in past 7 days, October 2021% who worked from home in past 7 days, October 2022% difference
Male30.2%30.2%0.0%
Female28.9%28.2%-2.5%

Source: LendingTree analysis of U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey Week 39 (Sept. 29 to Oct. 11, 2021) and Week 50 (Oct. 5 to Oct. 17, 2022) data.

Race

Race% who worked from home in past 7 days, October 2021% who worked from home in past 7 days, October 2022% difference
Hispanic or Latino23.1%23.1%0.2%
White30.7%29.8%-2.8%
Black25.5%26.6%4.3%
Asian43.2%42.9%-0.7%
2 or more races30.3%30.9%2.1%

Source: LendingTree analysis of U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey Week 39 (Sept. 29 to Oct. 11, 2021) and Week 50 (Oct. 5 to Oct. 17, 2022) data.

Education

Education% who worked from home in past 7 days, October 2021% who worked from home in past 7 days, October 2022% difference
Less than high school9.7%10.8%10.8%
High school or GED15.3%13.7%-10.5%
Some college/associate degree25.9%26.2%1.3%
Bachelor’s degree or higher50.4%50.6%0.4%

Source: LendingTree analysis of U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey Week 39 (Sept. 29 to Oct. 11, 2021) and Week 50 (Oct. 5 to Oct. 17, 2022) data.

Household income

Household income% who worked from home in past 7 days, October 2021% who worked from home in past 7 days, October 2022% difference
Less than $25,00010.3%10.2%-0.1%
$25,000 to $34,99912.8%14.8%15.8%
$35,000 to $49,99917.4%14.8%-15.3%
$50,000 to $74,99923.7%22.0%-6.8%
$75,000 to $99,99932.5%33.8%4.0%
$100,000 to $149,99945.7%45.8%0.2%
$150,000 to $199,99958.9%56.6%-3.9%
$200,000 and above68.9%69.7%1.0%

Source: LendingTree analysis of U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey Week 39 (Sept. 29 to Oct. 11, 2021) and Week 50 (Oct. 5 to Oct. 17, 2022) data.

Working from home? How to get the most bang for your buck

If you’re a remote employee, working from home can offer a great way to reduce debt and cut back on spending — as long as you use the opportunity to do so.

“The two biggest ways you save money is the cost spent on commuting — especially when gas prices are so high — and eating lunch out,” Mangla says. “Some people also save on things like office attire.”

To use these savings to your advantage, Mangla says to make a budget and allocate the leftover cash to a savings account.

For those looking for remote work, Mangla says negotiating your salary can offer a great opportunity to establish your financial independence — particularly with inflation so high.

“When you’re negotiating your salary, you still have to demonstrate that you are adding value to your company and its bottom line, whether you work from home or in the office,” she says. “So focus on detailing how you move the business forward. It shouldn’t matter, then, where you’re accomplishing that from.”

Methodology

LendingTree researchers analyzed U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey data to estimate the percentage of people working from home.

Researchers analyzed Week 39 data (Sept. 29 to Oct. 11, 2021) and Week 50 data (Oct. 5 to Oct. 17, 2022) to compare overlapping periods in 2021 and 2022. Though Week 39 covered parts of two months, we referenced this period as October 2021 in the study for consistency. All displayed figures are rounded to the nearest hundredth.

The Household Pulse Survey asked respondents whether they’d worked from home in the past seven days. Those who worked from home at least once in the past seven days at the time of the surveys were included in our tallies.

Researchers ranked the states by the largest drop in the rate of people working from home between 2021 and 2022.

 

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