Where will the majority of the work force live in the future?

  • Cities – working from home will remain the exception. Most will still work in urban areas. (88%, 7 Votes)
  • Suburbia – technology will enable most people to work from home. (13%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 8

It was once believed working from home would be the norm. Recent U.S. Census Bureau data tells us otherwise.

In 2010, some six million people across the nation worked from home. Some worked primarily from home; others split work between the home and office. Home work has increased nearly 30% in the U.S. over the last decade. However, the population working primarily from home was 4.3% of the 2010 workforce.

About one-third of home workers are aged 55 and over. Of these, half are either self-employed or unpaid family workers. Notably, a 55+ individual’s median income from home work is $25,000. This is dramatically below California’s median income of $54,000.

first tuesday insight

Last decade, legend held that urban dwelling would be phased out. E-communication and technical advancements would outmode traditional office environments. This has yet to be proven.

Let’s look at California Census data. The highest wage earners worked part of the time in the office. But exclusive home workers were sparse – 3.8% in 2000 and 5.3% in 2010. That’s only 857,352, a mere 300,316 increase from 2000. Also, increases in home work are likely a result of low traditional employment. Without traditional employment, one works from home to make ends meet. Home work’s current popularity trumps 2000 trends, but doesn’t shift California’s housing paradigm.

Further, a dearth of jobs still bridles Generation Y (Gen Y). When jobs for Gen Y are created, they’ll likely first emerge in the cities.

Full-time home work doesn’t yet yield the wages needed for saving a downpayment. For some students, $25,000 is less than a semester’s worth of loans. Debt alone for the novice workforce is motive enough to avoid home-based employment.

The conclusion is simple: Gen Y will be drawn to urban centers for jobs.

As jobs are created they will act as the migratory magnet. Areas near urban cores will benefit in rents and sales of real estate. The suburbs won’t be resurrected by lucrative satellite employment any time soon.

Re: Not Many Work at Home from Demo Memo and Census Bureau Report Shows Steady Increase in Home-Based Workers Since 1999 from the Census Bureau