It might seem like everyone is working from home, but the majority of Canadians can’t. Statistics Canada (Stat Can) data on work from home trends was released this morning. The agency broke down the rate of those that could from April 2020 to June 2021. The top 10% of household incomes were more than 9x as likely to work-from-home as the bottom 10% of households. In general, the more a household made, the more likely they could avoid leaving home to make a living. This can have a fairly substantial impact on who lives in cities, and who buys in secondary markets.
More Than Half of High Income Households Could Work From Home
Households with the biggest incomes were more likely to work from home, or at least have the option. The agency found 45% of the top 10% of income distribution worked from home between April 2020 and June 2021. In this demographic, even more (57%) could have worked from home with their type of job. This is in stark contrast to lower income households, where the vast majority has to leave their home.
Canadian Households That Worked From Home By Income
The percent of dual-income households where both spouses worked from home between April 2020 to June 2021, by income decile.
Source: Stat Can; Better Dwelling.
Even going down to the 9th decile of income, those in the top 80% to 90% of incomes, we see a sharp drop. In this demographic, only 34.5% of households had both spouses work from home, a drop of more than 10 points. As you get further down the income chain, fewer and fewer people are able to earn a living at home.
Only 5.1% of The Lowest Income Workers Could Work From Home
When you get to the bottom decile, aka the lowest 10% of household incomes, only a sliver could work from home. The bottom 10% of households only saw 5.2% of households work from home between April 2020 and June 2021. Only 11% of jobs for this demographic are even possible to do from home.
The Industry Employed In Plays A Large Role In Income and Work Flexibility
As you might have expected, one of the biggest reasons is the type of jobs each income bracket does. The finance and insurance industry, known for decent pay, saw 7 in 10 people work from home. Cultural industries also saw a large share of work from home (65%), as well as public administration (56%). In contrast, it’s hard to work from home if you work in a restaurant, grocery store, or shipping.
An important takeaway for the real estate crowd is how this can shape cities. Canada’s cities are prohibitively expensive for even fairly high-income households. These households have flexibility and mobility, and the means to move further away. They also tend to perceive long commute times to be more painful, so commuting isn’t likely. Work from home, and outside of the city, may not be as temporary as many assume. This can be a drag for expensive cities, and a boost to the tertiary markets that surround them.
In contrast, low-income households have to be near the city for work. They can’t just Zoom-it-in, meaning they’re stuck with long commutes or high shelter costs. Expensive cities are now the perfect combination of poorly aligned priorities.
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