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Work-from-Residence Stage In Could Reached Lowest Since 2020—Whereas Nonetheless Excessive In These Industries


Work-from-home levels in the U.S. have dropped to their lowest point since the spring of 2020, with employees working only 26.6% of their full paid days from home in May as people increasingly return to the office, according to the latest data from WFH Research, though working from home still dominates several white-collar industries.

Key Facts

Only 26.6% of paid workdays in the U.S. were done from home in May, down from the pandemic peak of around 60%, and 28.6% in May 2023—meaning about 1 in 10 workers commuted one more day each week this year compared to last year, according to the study from researchers that included economists from Stanford University and the University of Chicago.

Among full-time employees in the U.S., 13% were fully remote, 26% were working hybrid and 62% were fully on-site.

The information and technology sector had the highest share (69%) of work-from-home employees and most remote workdays (2.2 per week), followed by finance and insurance, in which 66% work from home, also averaging 2.2 days per week—researchers noted these industries lean strongly toward remote work due to high-paying, computer-intensive jobs often located in major cities, where long commutes make remote work appealing.

Employees in retail and hospitality had low work-from-home rates, ranging from 0.6 to 0.7 days per week—those industries largely require physical presence to engage with consumers or involve work with specialized equipment and facilities, according to researchers.

Of the nine major U.S. metro areas analyzed, Greater Los Angeles led the way in remote work with a 34.4% rate for paid workdays, followed by Greater Houston (32%), the San Francisco Bay Area (32%), Washington D.C.-Baltimore area (30.7%) and New York metropolitan area (30.7%).

Workers in their 50s and 60s went into the office more often than younger workers, with 68% of workers aged 50-64 working fully on-site, higher than those in their 40s (62%), 30s (59%), and 20s (57%).

Companies founded in 2020 have the highest share of remote work, with 36% of their workdays being remote due to their digital-first nature, while firms created before or after then show lower work-from-home rates, researchers found.

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Key Background

Remote work rose five-fold from 2019 to 2023, equating to almost 40 years of pre-pandemic growth, according to WFH Research. Before the pandemic, 7.2% of workdays were spent at home, which soared to 61.5% in May 2020. The rate has gradually declined since then, stabilizing at around 30% in mid-2022 and dropping slightly to 28% by early 2024. While recent data from WFH Research shows a slow yet continued decrease in remote work rates, it is expected to “rise again,” as “technologies improve and make remote collaboration more effective,” the researchers noted in a monthly briefing.

News Peg

Certain industries and metro areas have a dominant share of remote workdays or employees, with companies in information and tech, finance and business services leading the trend. These sectors make working from home more appealing due to certain qualities, according to a 2023 study by economists at WFH Research: high salaries—which result in higher marginal tax rates and thus intensify the tax incentive to work from home—and analytically oriented jobs that require intense focus, which many find easier to achieve at home. All nine of the most populous metro areas exceeded the nation’s average work-from-home rate in May, with Greater Los Angeles, Greater Houston, Bay Area, Washington D.C.-Baltimore and New York metro areas being the top five, as researchers noted a correlation between population density and work-from-home rates. However, the cities’ dominant industries also play a significant role: D.C.’s high work-from-home rate may partially stem from a large share of jobs in business and finance operations, L.A.’s to arts and entertainment, and the Bay Area’s to information and technology—sectors with the highest percentage of remote and hybrid workers.


The massive shift to work-from-home has not only changed the way Americans work but also how they shop, fueling $375 billion as of March in e-commerce spending above what would have been expected based on pre-pandemic levels, according to research by the Mastercard Economics Institute. The surge in online spending was particularly pronounced in regions with high shares of remote and hybrid workers, with online grocery spending increasing during midday working hours—from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.—compared to 2019. The study suggested this is driven by several factors, such as the convenience of shopping online during work hours, especially for industries with internet restrictions in offices. Additionally, higher income levels among remote workers and technological advances have further fueled this trend, according to the study.

Further Reading

We’re Spending Billions on This Work-From-Home Indulgence (The Wall Street Journal)

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