Latest Telecommuting Statistics
Our 27-page white paper, The State of Telework in the U.S., offers an in depth analysis of the data below, and more. [Note: the report was published in June 2011, so many of the latest numbers below may not match those in the report).
You might also find this page of interest. It explains why there are so many widely ranging estimates of the size of the teleworker population.
How many employees telecommute? (updated October 2012)
Based on a special analysis we ran of the latest American Community Survey data (2011 data based on surveys conducted in 2010 to 2011), 2.5% of the U.S. employee workforce (3.1 million people, not including the self-employed or unpaid volunteers) considers home their primary place of work.
- Growth of Multiple Days per Week Employees (not including self-employed) telecommuting increased 73% from 2005 to 2011 though the rate of growth slowed during the recession:
- 2010 to 2011 = 4.1% (3.1 million or 2.5% of the workforce)
- 2009 to 2010 = 3.2% (3.0 million or 2.5% of the workforce)
- 2008 to 2009 = 3.6% (2.9 million or 2.3% of the workforce)
- 2007 to 2008 = 14.1% (2.8 million or 2.18% of the workforce)
- 2006 to 2007 = 7.8% (2.5 million or 1.99% of workforce)
- 2005 to 2006 = 26.2% (2.3 million or 1.86% of workforce)
- There is no government-wide count of telecommuters who do so less than half the time and estimates vary widely. Based on all the research we’ve done, our estimate is that 20 to 30 million Americans work from home at least one day a week. Of that:
- 15 to 20 million are road warriors / mobile workers
- 10 to 15 million are home businesses
- 15 to 20 million people (including the self-employed) work at home part-time with about half doing so 1-2 days a week
- 3 million employees doing so full-time.
- 76% of telecommuters work for private sector companies, down from 81% in 2005 – the difference is largely attributable to increased telework among other types of employees.
- The federal government has the highest proportion of teleworkers:
- Federal employees = 5%
- Private sector for-profit employers = 75.8%
- Private sector non-for profit employers = 10.2%
- State government workers = 5%
- Local government workers = 5%
- The 2012 Status of Telework in Federal Government Report shows 31% of Federal workers are eligible for telework (down from 61% in 2011)
- WorldatWork estimates that 16 million employees work at home at least one day a month, a number that increased almost 62% between 2005 and 2010.
Growth of Telecommuting (updated August 2012)
- Regular telecommuting grew by 73% between 2005 and 2011 compared to only 4.3% growth of the overall workforce (not including the self-employed). Growth within different sectors of the workforce varied widely:
- Federal employees = 424% growth
- State government employees = 114% growth
- Not-for-profit employees = 85% growth
- For profit employees = 63%
- Local government employees = 67%
- During the same period, home-based self-employment actually declined by 3.2% (compared to a 6.3% decline in the total self-employed population). That is why it is very misleading to look at the standard ACS work at home numbers which include both employee teleworkers and the self-employed who work at home. Taken together, the growth of home-based work from 2005 to 2011 would total only 26.2% instead of 73% for just employee teleworkers.
- While many conjectured that telecommuting would decline during the recession, it actually grew by 11.4% from 2008 to 2011.
- Based on current trends, with no growth acceleration, regular telecommuters will total 4.9 million by 2016, a 69% increase from the current level.
Regional Telecommuting Statistics and Trends (updated June 2011 based on special analysis of 2010 ACS)
- Among the 15 largest U.S. metro areas, San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos (CA) has the highest concentration of people who consider home their primary place of work (4.2%) and Detroit-Warren-Livonia (MI) has the lowest (1.8%).
- The region with the fastest percentage growth in regular employee telecommuting was Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario (CA) – posting a 77% increase since 2005 (based on growth relative to the local total population; among populations with over 1 million workers).
- Among the 124 metropolitan areas evaluated, 34% showed greater five year growth in regular telecommuters than the national growth.
- In a quarter of the nation’s 20 largest metro areas, more people now telecommute than use public transportation as their principal means of transportation to work.
- There is no correlation between cities with the worst congestion or longest round-trip commutes and the extent of telework. For example, among the largest 15 metro areas, New York had the third lowest percent of regular telecommuters (2.1%).
How Many People Could Telework? / How Many Want To? (updated August 2012)
- 64 million U.S employees holds a job that is compatible at least part-time telework (50% of the workforce).
- 79% of U.S. workers say they would like to work from home at least part of the time (WorldatWork Telework Trendlines 2009). 80% of federal employees say they want to (2012 Status of Telework in Federal Government: Report to Congress).
- Taken together the above number suggests that 50 million workers both could and want to telework.
Who Telecommutes? (updated June 2011)
- A typical telecommuter is 49 years old, college educated, a salaried non-union employee in a management or professional role, earns $58,000 a year, and works for a company with more than 100 employees.
- Relative to the total population, a disproportionate share of management, professional, sales and office workers telecommute.
- Using home as a ‘reasonable accommodation’ per the Americans with Disabilities Act, 316,000 disabled employees regularly work from home.
- Non-exempt employees are far less likely to work at home on a regular or ad hoc basis than salaried employees.
- Over 75% of employees who work from home earn over $65,000 per year putting them in the upper 80 percentile of all employees.
- Larger companies are more likely to allow telecommuting than smaller ones.
- Non-union organizations are more likely to offer telecommuting those with unions.
What Is the Potential Bottom Line Impact or Return on Investment of the Widespread Adoption of Telework in the U.S.? (updated August 2012)
- If those with compatible jobs and a desire to work from home did so just half the time (roughly the national average for those who do so regularly) the national savings would total over $700 Billion a year including:
- A typical business would save $11,000 per person per year
- The telecommuters would save between $2,000 and $7,000 a year
- The oil savings would equate to over 37% of our Persian Gulf imports
- The greenhouse gas reduction would be the equivalent of taking the entire New York State workforce permanently off the road.
- The Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the entire five-year cost of implementing telework throughout government ($30 million) is less than a third of the cost of lost productivity from a single day shut down of federal offices in Washington DC due to snow ($100 million).
The latest telework savings numbers are summarized here (these may not match those in the white papers as they have been updated with recent data).
For details about how these telework savings were calculated, and for similar information regarding telework in the U.K. and Canada, download our free white papers.
Reporters: We are constantly updating our database of over 2,000 documents on telework, alternative workplace strategies, and workplace flexibility. Please call or email for the latest data or for additional information (kate-at-globalworkplaceanalytics.com, 760-703-0377 Pacific Time)