The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we work and travel. Will these changes become more permanent, or will we revert back to a pre-pandemic way of life? The Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey gives us a glimpse into how the pandemic has changed the way we work, travel, and run our errands on a weekly basis. The latest Household Pulse Survey data is from the week of May 12th.
In 2019, 5.4% of the Tucson Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) population and 7.0% of the Phoenix population worked from home. That percentage skyrocketed to over 40.0% during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. The most current data from the Household Pulse Survey indicates that 25.3% of Arizona households still have at least one adult working remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic. Arizona fell in the middle of the western states, with Utah posting the highest rate of those teleworking at 35.0% (Figure 1). Nevada posted the lowest rate at 17.2%, which is in part due to the heavy service sector. The U.S. rate at 25.4% was similar to Arizona’s rate, while the teleworking rate for the Phoenix MSA was slightly higher at 30.0%. Unfortunately, the Household Pulse Survey does not provide data for the Tucson MSA.
Figure 1: Percentage of Households Teleworking due to Coronavirus Pandemic (Week of May 12, 2021)
The percentage of households that had at least one adult teleworking varied significantly by level of education. In Arizona, 53.2% of households with a bachelor’s degree reported teleworking during the week of May 12th, 2021. Of those households, 44.8% reported teleworking due to the coronavirus pandemic, while 8.4% reported their telework was not due to the pandemic. The U.S. reported similar results while teleworking rates for the Phoenix MSA due to the pandemic (48.6%) and not due to the pandemic (8.1%) were slightly higher at 56.7%. Teleworking rates dropped significantly for those without a college degree. This is partly due to those without a college degree being likely to work in a service industry, which requires more face-to-face interaction. Figure 2 highlights the total teleworking rate by level of education.
Figure 2: Percentage of Households Teleworking by Level of Education (Week of May 12, 2021)
Teleworking rates varied widely by race and ethnicity, especially in Arizona and Phoenix. Asians reported the highest teleworking rates in Arizona at 65.7% followed by Black or African Americans at 48.3% (Figure 3). Hispanic or Latino residents reported the lowest rate of telework at 24.2%. Teleworking rates by race and ethnicity for the U.S. were similar to Arizona with the exception of Black or African American residents. Nationally, Black or African Americans reported the lowest rate of telework at 25.0%.
Figure 3: Percentage of Households Teleworking by Race & Ethnicity (Week of May 12, 2021)
Households with children were slightly more likely to have at least one adult teleworking during the week of May 12, 2021. In Arizona, 26.6% of households with children reported teleworking, while 24.1% of households without children teleworked. (Figure 4) That was a 2.5 percentage point difference. The difference for U.S. households was similar at 2.9 percentage points, while the difference for households in the Phoenix MSA was slightly higher at 3.2 percentage points. Overall, households with children in the Phoenix MSA reported the highest teleworking rate at 31.7%.
Figure 4: Percentage of Households Teleworking with Children and without Children (Week of May 12, 2021)
The coronavirus pandemic changed the way we worked and the way we utilized transportation. Of those that normally use transportation services such as bus, rail, or ride-share in Arizona, 6.8% reported taking fewer trips in early May due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nationally, 8.6% of those who normally use transportation services were taking fewer trips, while California reported the highest percentage of those who had reduced their frequency of use at 14.2%. Figure 5 reports the percentage of those that typically use transportation services that took fewer trips than normal during the week of May 12th, 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Figure 5: Percentage of Adults with a Change in Transportation Services due to COVID-19 (Week of May 12, 2021)
Just over 50% of adults report that they changed their shopping habits during early May because of the coronavirus pandemic. That was consistent across the U.S., Arizona, and the Phoenix MSA. In Arizona, 26.4% of adults reported that they combined their shopping trips due to the pandemic (Figure 6). Nearly 20.0% of adults reported that they increased their online shopping because of the pandemic.
Figure 6: Percentage of Adults with a Change in Shopping Habits due to COVID-19 (Week of May 12, 2021)
After more than 15 months since the start of the pandemic in the U.S., travel has picked up. According to the Household Pulse Survey, in early May 34.1% of adults in Arizona had an overnight trip planned during the next month that was more than 100 miles away from their home (Figure 7). There was wide variation among the western states with only 25.9% of adults planning a trip in California but nearly 40% of adults in Utah planning to travel in the next month. Arizona’s economy online magazine is a great place to track the travel trends for both the state and locally.
Figure 7: Percentage of Adults with Overnight Trips Planned in the Next 4 Weeks (Week of May 12, 2021)
One important determinant of household spending and travel plans is perceived economic stability. The Household Pulse Survey has tracked the percentage of households that expect a loss in employment income during the next four weeks since the beginning of the pandemic. As illustrated in Figure 8, in June 2020 nearly 40% of households expected a loss of employment income. That percentage has declined significantly since then for the nation, Arizona, and the Phoenix MSA. During the week of May 12th, 2021 just around 14% of households nationally, in Arizona, and Phoenix expected a loss of employment income during the next month.
Figure 8: Expected Loss of Income
The MAP Dashboard will continue to provide updates on how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting households. Stay tuned for upcoming articles on housing and food scarcity.