During the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of workers transitioned to working from home all or part of the time. At its peak, about 35% of workers tele-worked because of the pandemic. However, many jobs are not conducive to telecommuting—a fact that has been especially challenging for parents with kids living at home. Besides reduced flexibility in work location, workers who can’t telecommute also tend to earn less, which for parents, limits alternative childcare options.
Data collected in 2018 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that a majority of high-earning workers had the ability to work from home while the vast majority of workers with low wages did not have the option to work from home. It’s not surprising then that when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down in-person schools and childcare, the results were devastating for many low-wage families. A recent study by researchers at Northwestern University found that nearly 20% of working parents had to leave work or reduce their hours because of a lack of childcare options, and the study found significant income and gender disparities in the data. Whereas high-earners were more likely to be able to work from home or pay for at-home care, low-wage workers tended to lack either option.
By combining data from a recent University of Chicago study with statistics from the Census Bureau, researchers at CoPilot calculated that only about 32% of parents with children living at home work in remote-friendly occupations. While this is slightly higher than the percentage across all workers (29%), it still indicates that over two-thirds of parents lack the flexibility of at-home work. Interestingly, while working mothers are more likely than working fathers to hold remote-friendly jobs, they are also more likely to have left their job during the pandemic due to a lack of childcare—a trend that highlights the persistent impact of traditional gender roles in parenting decisions.
The prevalence of telecommuting among parents varies across the country and depends heavily on local economic conditions. Areas with large hospitality, retail, and agriculture sectors tend to have fewer remote-friendly jobs, while locations with high concentrations of technology, finance, legal, and education occupations tend to have more. At the state level, Nevada and Arkansas have the lowest shares of working parents in remote-friendly jobs at just 24.2% and 26.1%, respectively. In contrast, New Jersey and New Hampshire have the highest shares of working parents in remote-friendly jobs, at 37.8% and 36.4%, respectively.
To determine the locations where parents lack the ability to telecommute, CoPilot analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau as well as data from the University of Chicago. Metro areas were ranked by the share of working parents in remote-friendly jobs. Researchers also calculated the share of working mothers and fathers in remote-friendly jobs and the median earnings of parents in remote-friendly jobs and in non-remote friendly jobs.
To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis. Additionally, metro areas were grouped into the following cohorts based on population size:
- Small metros: 100,000–349,999
- Midsize metros: 350,000–999,999
- Large metros: 1,000,000 or more
The analysis found that in the Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura metro area, 30.3% of working parents have remote-friendly jobs, compared to the national average of 31.6%. Here is a summary of the data for the Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA metro area:
- Share of working parents in remote-friendly jobs: 30.3%
- Share of working moms in remote-friendly jobs: 33.4%
- Share of working fathers in remote-friendly jobs: 27.7%
- Median earnings of parents in remote-friendly jobs: $80,000
- Median earnings of parents in non-remote-friendly jobs: $46,100
For reference, here are the statistics for the entire United States:
- Share of working parents in remote-friendly jobs: 31.6%
- Share of working moms in remote-friendly jobs: 37.9%
- Share of working fathers in remote-friendly jobs: 25.7%
- Median earnings of parents in remote-friendly jobs: $60,000
- Median earnings of parents in non-remote-friendly jobs: $43,100
For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on CoPilot’s website: https://www.copilotsearch.com/posts/cities-where-parents-cant-work-from-home