As daily new COVID-19 cases continue to spike in the United States, fears of another lockdown are mounting. While some people might loathe the idea of working from home for another couple of weeks, if not months, it’s important to remember that being able to telecommute is a privilege these days, with the alternative being unemployment in many cases.
According to a recent analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics not all jobs are created equal in terms of the possibility to do them from home. While the BLS estimates that 81.1 percent of those employed in the financial services sector have the ability to work remotely, jobs in agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting are (unsurprisingly) at the other end of the scale with just 8 percent of employees able to telework.
The BLS’s data also reveals a clear link between the ability to work from home and the effect of the pandemic on employment within an industry. While employment in financial activities declined by just 6 percent between February and April, the number of jobs dropped by more than 40 percent in the leisure and hospitality sector, where just 20 percent of employees have the ability to work from home.
“This differential effect exists both within and across major industries, and it is likely to persist throughout the pandemic,” the BLS concludes. “The extent to which working patterns will be permanently affected by the pandemic is an open question,” the report notes looking ahead. “One might speculate that the takeup rate will increase permanently as workers and employers become more comfortable with telework arrangements.”