More people worked from home in the capital in 2021 than any other big city
In the county, 48.3 percent of employees worked remotely in 2021, compared to about 6 or 7 percent between 2017 and 2019. Second on the 50-largest city list was Seattle (46.8 percent), followed by San Francisco (45.6 percent), Austin (38.8 percent) and Atlanta (38.7 percent).
Among metro areas with populations over 1 million, the Washington, D.C. area ranked third in telecommuting, at 33.1 percent, just below San Francisco and San Jose (35.1 percent and 34.8 percent, respectively).
The data came from the 2021 American Community Survey, which provides annual estimates based on questionnaires filled out by 3.5 million households. Last year, the bureau said, saw the highest number and percentage of home workers on record since the start of the US Civil Service in 2005.
Of the top five largest counties for working from home, three were in the Washington metro area, with the county ranked first and Fairfax and Montgomery counties fourth and fifth, at 37.2 and 37.1 percent, respectively.
All of the top-ranked cities, counties and metro areas have seen drastic increases compared to before the pandemic, when the proportion of people working from home in those places was between 5 and 10 percent.
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Between 2019 and 2021, the number of people working from home tripled from 5.7 percent (about 9 million people) to 17.9 percent (27.6 million people), according to the new data. The states with the highest percentage of home workers were Washington (24.2 percent), Maryland (24.0 percent), Colorado (23.7 percent), and Massachusetts (also 23.7 percent).
The percentage of people who work from home closely correlates with the percentage of workers who are college graduates, according to an analysis by William Fry, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, for The Washington Post. According to new census data, 63 percent of people 25 or older in the area have a bachelor’s degree or higher, making it the second most educated city after Seattle, at 68.3 percent.
This figure reflects a continuous increase in the number of university learners in the province in recent years; In 2016, it was 56.8 percent, up from 45.9 percent in 2006 and 33.3 percent in 1990. The educated cities in the country are San Francisco, Austin, and Atlanta, and they are tied for the highest teleworking cities.
“These are largely attractions for the younger, well-educated, computer-savvy adults often associated with the tech industry who are well-positioned to work from home,” Frey said.
The percentage of people with college degrees varies widely by race in the county, with 93 percent of whites being college graduates, the highest percentage in a large city (Atlanta and San Francisco are second and third, at 80.4 and 79.5 percent, respectively). Among the black population, the proportion drops to 33.7 percent (seventh of the 50 largest US cities); Among Hispanics, 57.4 percent (first among largest cities); And among Asians, 79.9 percent (second after Atlanta).
More than a quarter of the region’s blacks, 27.7 percent, live below the poverty line, compared to 5.1 percent of whites, 10.5 percent of Hispanics, and 16.1 percent of Asians, according to the new data; The city’s overall rate is 16.5%, 4 or 5 percentage points higher than it was just before the pandemic but slightly lower than the 2000s and most of the 2010s, when it ranged between 17 and 20%. (Nationally, the quotas are 9.5 percent for whites, 21.8 percent for blacks, 17.5 percent for Hispanics, and 10.2 percent for Asians.)
Erica Williams, executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute in the capital, said the unusual circumstances of the pandemic have created both opportunities and hardships for low-income people in the city. Even when people have lost income due to pandemic restrictions and disease, federal aid programs like the Children’s Tax Credit “definitely made a difference. Things could have been much worse without those huge investments, she said, adding that the credit has halved child poverty in the region.
A report released this week by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities found that “mainly due to the tax credit for children, child poverty fell sharply in 2021 and reached a record low of 5.2 percent” nationwide. This credit expired this year.
The median black household income in the area is $52,812, much lower than the city overall, at $90,088. Williams said unemployment among the region’s black residents rose slightly in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the previous year. “So even in this moment of recovery, there are clearly a lot of barriers to action … that blacks face in the area and don’t encounter in other areas.”
For example, the city has “a lot of high-paying jobs that require certain skills and education that many black workers in the area cannot access or have not received,” she said.
In the greater Washington metropolitan area, the percentage of blacks living in poverty is 13.2 percent, and the median household income for blacks in the metro area is $81,696, placing it second among metro areas nationwide.
Many people who work in the city live outside of it, Williams said, adding that non-residents who work there earn on average higher incomes than people who live and work in the city.
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The new data also reflected a slowdown in the number of foreign-borns in the US, where the past few years have reflected the smallest gains since the 1970s. Between 2011 and 2017, the country gained between 400,000 and 1.4 million foreign-born residents annually, but from 2018 to 2021, the gains fell to about 200,000 annually or less, as a result of more restrictive immigration policies under President Donald Trump combined with Pandemic Fry said.
“Given that our population growth is almost zero, something is going to need to change,” he said. “It’s going to continue, and it’s not just an epidemic problem.”