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Without Commutes, People Are Spending More Time Working



US Workers Spending 22 Million Extra Hours on Primary Jobs Each Day

Recent data shows that between mid-March and mid-September, people in the US spent 60 million fewer hours commuting to and from their workplaces each day. When the pandemic first set in and many people began working from home, many had plans to pick up new hobbies, read more, or exercise more during the time when they used to commute.

It turns out that the majority of that extra time in the day has been spent on work. People’s primary jobs have taken up about 35.3% of the time that they used to spend commuting. This is equal to more than 22 million hours each workday.

Childcare and Housework Also Take Up Extra Time

In addition to spending more time on primary jobs, people also devoted more time to responsibilities at home. People cooked more because of restaurant restrictions and spent more time on childcare because of school and daycare closures. 15.5% of people’s extra time was spent on home improvement and chores. 11.1% of extra time went to child care and 8.4% was devoted to second jobs.

Altogether, about 70.3% of time that people used to spend commuting has been taken up with various forms of work. The remaining 30% was spent on consuming media, exercising, and other leisure activities.

Looking Ahead

The recent study of newly formed habits, which was published by the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago, calculated these statistics using data from the Census Bureau. This data showed that 147.2 million Americans work for pay. Before the pandemic, on average these people spent 54 minutes each day traveling to and from work. The researchers also conducted a survey of 10,000 American workers aged 20 to 64 making at least $20,000 per year and found that just over half of them were working from home during the pandemic.

A number of large companies have let their employees know that they will be working remotely until 2021 and beyond. Though the future of the workplace remains uncertain, some companies may implement remote work options even after the pandemic because of these types of studies showing that people spend more time working when they do not need to commute. On the other hand, for some companies, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of a physical office for productivity, ease of communication, and work-life balance.


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