The number of Americans working remotely last year almost doubled from 2019 after the coronavirus outbreak forced millions of employees to abandon offices and shift to telecommuting, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said in a report.

Employees working remotely surged to 42 percent last year, when the pandemic first hit the U.S., from 22 percent in 2019, according to a poll conducted by American Time Use Survey for the agency.

The proportion women working remotely in that period increased 23 percentage points to 49 percent,  while the percentage of men working from home surged to 36 percent from 20 percent in 2019, the study said.

On average, hours worked from home also increased from 3.6 per day in 2019 to 5.8 per day in 2020, the report noted.

Women outpace men in home chores

At the same time, women spent 1.7 hours a day caring for children and doing household chores, whereas men spent less than an hour doing the same tasks, the study revealed.

In addition, women’s time spent doing household tasks increased about 13 minutes in 2020, while men spent the same amount of time performing this activity in 2019 and 2020.

When it came to education-related activities, women spent 46 more minutes a day than men, as children also shifted to remote arrangements for education, the agency said.

Gender inequity was not the only factor in remote work. Those with higher-education degrees also worked remotely at higher rates than those whose top education was high school.

Of those aged 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher, 65 percent worked from home in 2020 from 37 percent in the prior year. In contrast, workers in the same age bracket whose highest education was a high-school diploma rose to 19 percent from 13 percent in 2019.

The financial industry had the largest increase (40 percentage points) of workers shifting to telecommuting last year, while the numbers of remote workers in the leisure and hospitality sector gained 10 percentage points.

Worker commute times accordingly diminished last year. The average time spent traveling( or commuting) decreased by about 26 minutes per day from 2019 to 47 minutes from 2019., the study found.

The American Time Use Survey polled 6,666 Americans in 2020 and 5,868 in 2019.

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