Telework Update: August 2021

By Lyndsey Stram, Regional Economist

With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic early in 2020, many of us were thrust into the world of telework. While many employers have experimented with telework in recent years, a global pandemic led to the largest scale adoption of this type of work. While there are benefits for both employers and employees, there are challenges as well.

One challenge is data collection. In order to get a grasp of what effects this had on the working population, the Bureau of Labor Statistics added teleworking questions to its monthly household survey of workers beginning in May 2020. Teleworking profiling remains on the household survey and this national data is available through July 2021.

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey


In May 2020, when COVID-19 closed portions of the economy, 35% of all workers ages 16 and older were working for pay at home. Though no previous data was available, we can confidently say that the level of telework was lower prior to April 2020. The rate of telework has come down since, and as of July 2021, 13% of workers 16 and older are working from home. There was also larger variation in the amounts of teleworking between age and gender last spring. Now all groups are between 10% and 15% teleworking. Though the age and gender group variations have shrunk, education levels remain a strong indicator in who is engaged in telework, as seen below.

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey


Of the surveyed groups, the largest variation in the percentage of telework was between the education levels. Those with bachelor’s and advanced degrees work from home, even now, at much higher levels. In May 2020, nearly 70% of those with advanced degrees were working from home while over 50% of those with bachelor’s degrees engaged in telework. The level of telework was, and remains, much lower for high school graduates and those with some college experience and associate degrees, generally because of the nature of their work. Technical positions, healthcare, customer service, etc. need more than a computer and internet access to complete their work.

As of July 2021, 30% of those with advanced degrees continue to work from home while just over 20% of those with bachelor’s degrees telework. Only time will tell whether this is a foundational shift or a hesitance to return to the office too quickly amid a lingering global pandemic. Another indicator that shows the shift to telework in recent months is job postings, as shown below.

Source: Burning Glass, Aug 2021


The above figure is the number of statewide job postings advertising telework since January 2019. There has been a major uptick, beginning in March 2020 and continuing today, hinting that the acceptance of teleworking may be here to stay.

There are benefits and drawbacks of teleworking for both employees and their employers. Potential for less overhead, no commute, increased work-life balance, flexible scheduling, and ease of use of infrastructure are among the benefits, while less collaboration, loss of a sense of community, and fewer opportunities for learning from colleagues are among the disadvantages. Continued experimentation and adaptation will show whether this level of widespread telework is sustainable.


9 Economic Dashboards Updated with New Data

The Utah Department of Workforce Services regularly updates its economic dashboards as new data becomes available from the U.S. Census Bureau and other sources. With the latest data available, our regional economists have recently updated the following interactive dashboards on our website:

  1. Unemployment Rates—Check out the current and historical unemployment rates for the nation, state and counties. View dashboard

  2. Nonfarm Jobs—Search for historical nonfarm jobs data and growth rates for the nation, state and counties. View dashboard.

  3. Cost of Living—Learn about the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers and calculate inflation, wage increases, and compare the cost of living for selected cities. View dashboard

  4. Annual Profiles—Explore historical annual data for the state and counties, including population, unemployment, jobs, demographics, wages, income, etc. View dashboard

  5. Economic Snapshots—View up-to-date economic indicators for the nation, state and counties. This includes jobs, unemployment rate, unemployment insurance claims, average wages, construction permitting and gross taxable sales. This also includes an updated quarterly analysis from our regional economists. View dashboard.  

  6. Regional Snapshots—Filter various economic indicators by region within Utah. View dashboard

  7. Unemployment Insurance Claims—Check out detailed historical data for initial unemployment insurance claims and weekly claims, including industry details, for the state and counties. View dashboard

  8. Site Selection Tool—Find data to help respond to site-selection data requests for businesses and governments that are exploring potential locations for a new building project. This data includes population, unemployment rates, commuting, occupational wages and other demographics. View dashboard

  9. Health Insurance Estimates—Explore the estimates of health insurance coverage, including some demographic breakdowns, for the state and counties. View dashboard


Utah's Employment Summary: July 2021


The following statistics are presented comparing July 2019 to July 2021.

Utah’s nonfarm payroll employment for July 2021 increased an estimated 4.2% across the past 24 months, with the state’s economy adding a cumulative 65,100 jobs since July 2019. Utah’s current employment level stands at 1,606,600. 

 

July’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate is estimated at 2.6%, with approximately 43,500 Utahns unemployed. Utah’s June unemployment rate is unchanged at 2.7%. The July national unemployment rate lowered noticeably to 5.4%. More...