Seattle ranks second nationally for remote work

A lot has changed since the pandemic — not least of which is the way we work. Gone are the days of long commutes or crowded bus rides; remote work is here to stay. Recent Census data has revealed that Seattle has the second-highest amount of remote workers in the country, second only Washington, D.C.

From 2019 to 2021, the number of remote workers in Seattle increased from 36,000 to 205,000 — a sixfold increase encompassing 47% of all working people who live in the city. Because of the surge in remote work, other methods of commuting saw steep drop-offs after the pandemic.

Public transportation, such as buses or light rail had the greatest decrease, falling from 115,989 daily riders to just 28,058 last year. That’s a drop of 76%. Carpools also languished, falling by 44% from 31,297 to 17,559. These modes of transport likely saw noticeable declines since they are communal forms of travel, and in the wake of the pandemic public sentiment around shared spaces has certainly shifted.

With that in mind, cycling also dropped 40% and solo drivers dropped 31%. These declines have less to do with pandemic-era anxieties and more to do with the simple fact that remote work now permeates the city.

Among the fifty most populous cities in the country, Washington, D.C. was the only locale with a higher percent of remote workers, leading by a scant 48% to Seattle’s 47%. San Francisco followed with 46%, and all other major cities in the Census data were below 40% for remote workers.

Part of the reason remote work has taken off here is due to the high amount of educated, skilled workers in industries like tech, which easily adapted to remote working conditions. Nationally, about 18% of all employees worked from home, while 60% of Americans have jobs that can’t be done remotely. Additionally, across the country about 19.5% of women worked remotely compared to 16% of men. In Seattle, remote work was split evenly between men and women.

No matter how you may feel about remote work, there is one definite upside. Thanks to fewer cars and commuters on the road, the average commute time in Seattle has dropped to 25.6 minutes. That’s down from 28.4 minutes in 2019 and the shortest commute time since 2011. That being said, remote workers still have in-person workers beat when it comes to commuting from the bedroom to the home office, with slippers included.

This article was originally posted on Seattle Times by Gene Balk.


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