Slips from No. 2 -- and not quite the same as remote workers, as workforce analyst explains
The Bend-Redmond metro area (defined as all of Deschutes County) has slid a bit in a ranking of places where many folks work from home, but is still No. 5 in the U.S., with more than one in 10 workers fitting that category, an Oregon Employment Department analyst says.
Here's the full column, posted Tuesday by Workforce Analyst Kale Donnelly:
The Bend-Redmond metro area (Deschutes County) isn’t new to the spotlight of national news in recent years. Some of the most recent and notable stories address the area’s list-topping population growth, employment growth, and one that I personally agree with – that Bend is one of the best places to live in the U.S. (Admittedly, that last one may be a little subjective.)
Another statistic that made headlines last year was how the metro had one of the highest shares of people who work from home. Not to be confused with the share of remote workers, this measure is derived from the method of transportation workers use to get to work. Those without a method of transportation to work, or rather any commute at all, are the ones that comprise the share of folks who work from home in the Census data.
From Second Place to Fifth
In 2017, the Bend-Redmond metro topped the list at number two for its share of work-from-home individuals out of all of the metros in the nation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, that share was 12.4 percent. With the latest 2018 estimates available from the Census, Central Oregon’s metro relinquished its podium position from the year prior and now currently sits at fifth place with an 11.5 percent share. That being said, the change in the share of individuals who work from home from 2017 to 2018 isn’t statistically significant – that is, the margins of error for both the 2017 and 2018 estimates are more than twice as large as the change from one year’s estimate to the next.
Worth noting, the Bend-Redmond metro has made the list of the top five metros with the highest share of people who work from home since 2013. There were also three other Oregon metros that made the top 50 in 2018: the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro metro, Grants Pass metro, and Eugene metro areas.
Subtle, Yet Distinct Differences
To avoid any misconception that these folks are synonymous with “remote workers,” I want to clarify the differences of certain types of workers who could fall under this category of work-from-home workers:
Remote Workers (Telecommuters): Workers whose employer allows them to work from a location other than the traditional office space, many times across state and national borders. These workers comprise a share of the work-from-home population, but not all remote workers work from home. Some remote workers operate out of coffee shops and libraries, or rent office space in various buildings – potentially in some of the co-working spaces that are becoming more prevalent in the region. Those individuals with a commute to an office space obviously wouldn’t be counted in the work-from-home measure. Unfortunately, we don’t have quality data to derive a reliable measure for the share of people who work remotely.
Examples: Call center representatives, computer programmers, social media managers, graphic designers, translators, writers, data analysts, etc.
Self-Employed/Sole Proprietors/Independent Contractors: Individuals who operate their own single-person business as the primary or sole operator. Some individuals may operate their business out of their home, while others rent office space or travel to job sites to perform their work. Once again, this group of workers comprise a share of the work-from-home population, but not all self-employed individuals work from home.
Examples: Real estate agents and brokers, property managers, carpenters, brickmasons, consultants, massage therapists, web developers, etc.
Work-From-Home Workers: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, this refers to “a worker’s lack of travel from home to a separate workplace.” These workers include a subset of the two groups of workers above. Some work remotely as an employee of an organization while others run their own business operations – both from the comfort of their home and without the hassle of a commute.
Examples: Child-care providers (operating out of their own home, of course), bloggers, call center representatives, real estate agents (who don’t rent space at the company office), bookkeepers, consultants, etc. Essentially a mix of the job examples for both groups above, plus many more.
Some remote workers and self-employed individuals do work from home, but are not counted in the work-from-home measure. This occurs when their remote or self-employed work is supplemental to their primary job. The question on the Census survey addressing your journey to work only concerns where you worked most in a particular reference week. Some individuals may commute to work for their primary job while operating their own consulting business, for example, part-time from their home. Those specific individuals would not be counted in the work-from-home measure since their regular job (paired with its inevitable commute) is where they worked most in that given week.
Hey, Fifth Place Ain’t Bad!
Out of 384 metropolitan statistical areas in the U.S., the Bend-Redmond ranks fifth for its share of people who work from home. Not only that, but the metro has ranked in the top five for the last six years. There’s no definitive way to tease out exactly why that is, or what sets the area apart from the rest.
Perhaps it’s the fact that the concentration, or share, of real estate brokers in the Bend-Redmond MSA is eight times higher than the nation. Remember, real estate brokers are a prime example of self-employed individuals who can work from home. Perhaps it’s the area’s plethora of natural amenities and mix of both rural and urban landscapes that people who work from home are drawn to.
Still, this measure is one more eye-catching statistic that the Bend-Redmond metro can hang on its fridge.