The pandemic is continuing to send people back home to work. The share of people teleworking in January increased to 15.4%, up from about 11% in December, according to a new report from the U.S. Labor Department.
During the prior seven months, the share of people working remotely remained well under 15%. The last time the share of people teleworking stepped over that figure was last May, when 16.6% of employed people worked at least in part from home.
The average workweek also dipped for the first time in the past 12 months: the average employee worked 34.5 hours per week in January, a slight decrease from the month before. The decrease is marginal, but cutting the number of working hours in the week continues to be popular among tech companies. The number of companies transitioning to a four-day workweek is rising, and scheduled company-wide breaks are also popping up.
The new data show that COVID-19 is continuing to keep people home in general: The Census Bureau found that nearly 9 million people couldn’t work because they were sick or caring for someone who was ill, a three-fold jump from December. The coming months will show how lasting the trend is, though, with the number of infections slowly starting to come down from a major omicron-related spike. But last summer, when a similar spike subsided and companies prepared to open their offices, a sizable number of workers stayed home anyway.