Vast migration of over 14 million Americans coming due to rise in remote work, study shows

A whopping 14 million to 23 million Americans are planning to relocate to a new U.S. city or region due in part to the growing acceptance of remote work, according to Upwork’s Remote Workers on the Move report released Thursday. 

The survey of 20,490 Americans over the age of 18 was conducted Oct. 1 to Oct. 15.

The vast migration driven by the pandemic comes after many companies such as Facebook announced plans to permanently shift jobs to remote work and hired a director of remote work in September to help in the transition.

Companies of all sizes are following this path including small businesses. According to a recent survey from Intermedia, 57% of small and medium-size businesses plan to offer remote work plans to employees for the long term. What’s more, SMB owners have observed that employee availability has increased by 19% by shifting to remote work. They learned the advantages of having remote work policies during the pandemic. Among them: lower operating costs, increased employee availability and job satisfaction.

“Companies were thrown feet first into a massive experiment with remote work due to the pandemic. The experiment has gone well; and it’s changing the future of the workforce,” says Adam Ozimek, Upwork’s chief economist. “Remote work is the fastest gamechanger for the U.S. economy since World War II when almost overnight there was a mobilization of production to provide arms for war.”

The emerging trend has dramatic implications for local and state economies. “Big expensive cities may see financial crunches,” says Ozimek. “There could be tax hikes and a big impact on house prices.”

But the rise in geographic mobility points to an expected increase in economic efficiency for businesses — and the individual. “Remote work presents a potential solution for those seeking job opportunities that don’t want to pay the high housing costs of a major city,” Ozimek points out. “As our survey shows, many people see remote work as an opportunity to relocate to where they want and where they can afford to live. This is an early indicator of the much larger impacts that remote work could have in increasing economic efficiency and spreading opportunity.”

Ariel Skelley

According to the study, 20.6% of residents of major cities are planning to move beyond normal commuting distances. The majority, 54.7%, want to relocate over two hours away or more from their current location, indicating they expect remote work to be a permanent option for them in the long term.

Housing market data confirms that the highest price markets are taking the biggest hits. Rental data from reveals that the top 10 of the most expensive housing markets — including Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, California and New York City — saw a 13 percentage point larger decrease in rent prices than rental markets in the bottom 10%.

From the employer’s side, there are key long-term benefits too, Ozimek says. “In the remote world organizations can find talented workers wherever they live; and this opens up opportunity for companies to build a well-skilled workforce.”

What are the top 10 remote jobs now in high demand? According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they are:

Source: BLS, current population survey, Sept 2020

Source: CNBC