Shortly after the outbreak of COVID-19, the U.S. Census Bureau launched a vast initiative to measure the effects of the disease on Americans. It is called the Household Pulse Survey. So far, the results have been released in three phases, which began with the first study that was in the field starting April 23, 2020. The data is released by week.
Each weekly report actually covers about two weeks of information gathered by the Census Bureau and other federal agencies. Among the questions asked each week is whether any adult in the respondent’s household “teleworks,” which is the study’s term for working from home or a site other than the office. To qualify, telework must be due to needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic. It can be done for “some” or “all” of their work time.
Current data covers Week 27 and includes the results of questions about income loss, the percentage of Americans who work from home, food scarcity, food insecurity, chances of eviction or foreclosure, difficulty in paying household expenses, whether people have received a COVID-19 vaccine and whether those not vaccinated plan to be so in the future.
The work is done in partnership with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Housing and Urban Development, National Center for Education Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics, Social Security Administration and USDA Economic Research Service.
Data come from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and America’s largest metro areas.
Several major studies have explored the extent to which people work from home. The wide range of outcomes from these studies probably happens in part because of the wording of the questions. Pew Research found that 71% of people in its December poll were working from home. A Stanford study from back in June found that 42% of people worked full time from home.
The Week 27 Pulse data shows that the state where the most people work from home is Utah, with a figure of 51.9%. New Jersey followed at 51.1%, and the national average from the study was 39.1%.
At the other end of the spectrum, the states with the lowest figures were Mississippi at 9.6%, Arkansas at 25.2% and Wyoming at 26.3%.