Not just a coastal thing: 7 inland cities most changed by remote working

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Remote work has gained momentum in recent years in the US economy in general and in its housing market in particular, but some communities are embracing it more than others.

Communities with the highest proportion of remote workers tend to have higher house prices, a better-educated workforce and longer commutes, according to a detailed September study by the Economic Innovation Group.

The study, based in part on a government survey that asked if people were working remotely in 2021, also identifies some of the places where remote working has transformed the economic landscape the most in recent years.

There are, of course, the usual suspects: Washington, DC, the seat of the US federal government and many of its various agencies, topped the list with more than one in three employees working remotely last year.

On the opposite coast, the Bay Area workforce has become almost as remote as DC, and the northwest metros of Seattle and Portland are not far behind.

Perhaps surprisingly, New York’s congested streets haven’t resulted in as high a rate of remote work as other high-priced seaside metros. The city, known for its extensive public transport network, had only 23% of employees working from home, less than in some similarly priced cities on the West Coast.

Some of the nation’s hottest housing markets due to in-migration — including Austin, Denver and Phoenix — now each have a share of remote workers exceeding 1 in 5 employees. But another migration destination, Boise, Idaho , has a much lower share; just 16% of employees in the Boise commuter zone are working from home.

Here’s a window into some of the less covered housing markets where remote working has become a bigger feature of everyday life.

Raleigh, North Carolina — 29%

Raleigh, North Carolina | Higgins Spooner on Unsplash

This market has developed a remote workforce that rivals some of the largest metros in the country.

Raleigh residents are among the most educated in the country, with a high proportion of residents holding a college degree. This, coupled with the high concentration of jobs in financial services and high-tech research, has given many employees the leeway to continue working from home.

Charlotte, North Carolina — 27%

Charlotte, North Carolina | Wes Hicks on Unsplash

Outside of New York City itself, no US metropolitan area can boast a bigger financial splash than Charlotte.

Among other financial institutions, the city is home to the headquarters of Bank of America and has hosted both Wells Fargo’s East Coast regional operations and its capital markets offices.

Its workforce, by extension, is even more likely to take advantage of remote opportunities than New York’s.


Minneapolis | Nicole Geri on Unsplash

Another major regional financial center, Minnesota’s capital and the wider Twin Cities region was home to the seventh highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the United States, according to a 2021 report from RealPage Analytics.

More than one in four employees in the Minneapolis commuting area were still working remotely at that time.


Atlanta | Stephen Cook on Unsplash

Home to some of America’s hottest neighborhoods during the pandemic, Metro Atlanta has the nation’s eighth largest population and 10th largest economic output.

The formidable local economy includes a wide range of workers in finance, information technology, public policy and media. Many of them continued to work from home until 2021.


dallas | Aleksey Kuprikov on Unsplash

Unlike its big sister to the south, the state capital of Austin, Dallas’ growth in recent years has not been fueled to the same degree by a sudden influx of high-paying big tech jobs. (The share of Austin’s workforce that was remote last year was 32%.)

Still, the city has been the destination of a large number of out-of-town movers in recent years. The local economy is also diverse and home to nearly two dozen Fortune 500 companies, the fourth highest number in the United States.

Auto traffic may play a role in the number of people choosing to work from home in North Texas. Like many places on this list, rush-hour traffic in Dallas can be a headache for local residents, and public transportation options here are somewhat limited.


Chicago | Max Bender on Unsplash

While some housing markets may have been hotter during the first pandemic, Chicago’s economy was also well prepared for the transition to remote working.

The share of people in the Chicago commuting zone who worked remotely last year matched and even slightly exceeded that of New York City. The two were further apart than Los Angeles.

The greater Chicago metropolitan area is home to 36 Fortune 500 corporate headquarters, with insurance and other financial services contributing much to the image.

Columbus, Ohio—23%

Columbus | Julius Kissinger on Unsplash

Last year, Ohio’s capital remained one of the most remote metropolitan areas in the country.

Nearly a quarter of employees in the Columbus commuting zone worked from home in 2021, as the city has a wide range of jobs in technology, banking and insurance, among others.

Other notable places

These non-coastal metros also stood out for their high proportion of teleworkers in their respective commuting zones.

  • Santa Fe, New Mexico — 22%
  • Madison, Wis. — 21%
  • Salt Lake City — 21%
  • Nashville, TN— 21%
  • Pittsburgh — 21%
  • Des Moines, Iowa — 20%

Email Daniel Houston

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