The Bay Area outpaces California’s other metropolitan areas in the amount of its jobs that can be done from home, according to a study from the Bay Area Council Economic Institute on the ways in which the coronavirus pandemic has altered the region’s economy.
Approximately 45 percent of employees in the nine-county Bay Area work in jobs that are eligible for remote work, more than the 40 percent in Sacramento, 39 percent in both San Diego and Orange County and 38 percent in Los Angeles.
San Francisco and Santa Clara counties both lead among all 58 of the state’s counties with 51 percent of their jobs eligible to work remotely. In total, roughly 1.79 million jobs are eligible for remote work in the Bay Area.
“Remote work has been critical to sustaining our regional economy through the COVID-19 pandemic,” BACEI executive director Jeff Bellisario said. “But remote work also could bring significant structural changes to the economy and the way the region plans for the future.”
The report found that a permanent shift in 12 cities across the Bay Area could affect some 265,000 jobs like transportation, food service and security jobs that rely on dense and bustling commercial hubs.
The shift to remote work has also caused the daytime populations of formerly dense areas to plummet. In San Francisco, 67 percent of jobs in the Financial District and 61 percent of those in the South of Market neighborhood can be done remotely.
If all 1.79 million remote-work eligible jobs were done from home for only one day per week, more than 1 million trips by single-occupancy vehicles would be avoided per week, according to the report.
Those avoided trips would represent a decrease of 8 percent from pre-pandemic travel.
Within the rise in remote work, however, are income and racial disparities among those who are eligible to do their jobs from home.
According to the study, just 6 percent of occupations with an average annual income below $40,000 have access to remote work while 76 percent of jobs with an average income of more than $150,000 per year can be done from home.
In addition, roughly half of jobs held by white residents across the nine-county Bay Area are work-from-home eligible while 33 percent of the Black workforce and 30 percent of the Latinx workforce have the same access.
“It makes clear that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for managing the range of possible outcomes,” Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez said.
“As we emerge out of the pandemic and consider lasting structural changes, we need to be flexible and adaptive, and make sure we’re asking the right questions,” she said.