Report: Here are the States & Cities Where People are Most Interested in Remote Work

search interest remote work

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Report: Here are the States & Cities Where People are Most Interested in Remote Work

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, companies all across the world shuttered their offices and began to operate remotely, allowing employees to work from the comfort of their homes. Not surprisingly, most employees immediately fell in love with working from home, enjoying the freedom and flexibility that comes with it.

As time has gone on and life has returned to something somewhat resembling normalcy, many businesses have started to ask their employees to return to the office. Some companies are requiring employees to be at the office on a full-time basis, while others are adopting a hybrid work schedule that lets employees work some days in the office and other days at home.

But not all workers have been ready to give up the remote work lifestyle. Over the last couple of years, employees have gained some leverage over employers in this labor market, and according to one recent study, only about half of all workers who have been asked by their employers to return to the office full time have actually complied.

Another recent survey found that 64% of workers would consider quitting if they were asked to return to the office full time.

The message is clear — most workers want the freedom to do their jobs from home.

But is that the case all across the country? Or are workers in certain regions more interested in remote work than others?

We worked together with a data science consulting firm to analyze and compare interest in remote working across all 50 states and many major metro areas across the US, looking at search trends and other publicly available data.

Here are the results of what we found…

 

Overview

Search interest in remote work opportunities has skyrocketed in recent years:

search interest remote work

In the map below, you can see the increase in search interest in remote work opportunities prior to COVID and after COVID across the country. Some states have seen a bigger increase in interest in remote work than others:

remote work interest before after covidWe paired the changes in remote job interest with information on the cost of living in each state to identify if there is some association between the two. We find (as shown below) that there is a negative association between these two values. States with a lower cost of living were more likely to increase their interest in finding remote jobs.

cost of living remote work

Cost of living values: These values were taken from WorldPopulationReview.com which states, “Cost of living indexes are calculated by first determining a baseline for comparison. When comparing costs across states, the average cost of living in the United States is used as the baseline set at 100. States are then measured against this baseline. For example, a state with a cost of living index of 200 is twice as expensive as the national average. Likewise, living in a state with an index of 50 will cost about half the national average.”

 

State Rankings of Remote Work Interest

We calculated the increase in interest in remote jobs for each state by subtracting the interest before COVID from the interest after COVID. See the rankings below:

STATE INCREASE IN INTEREST
North Carolina 51.6
South Carolina 48.9
Georgia 45.6
Tennessee 41.6
Florida 41.5
Ohio 40.5
Pennsylvania 40.3
Virginia 39.3
Arizona 38.6
Mississippi 38.4
Michigan 38.3
Illinois 37.5
Missouri 37.5
Indiana 37.0
Alabama 36.7
Texas 36.3
Maryland 35.9
Colorado 35.9
New Jersey 35.0
Kentucky 33.8
New York 33.5
Delaware 32.7
Rhode Island 31.9
Arkansas 31.5
Maine 31.1
District of Columbia 30.9
New Hampshire 30.5
Massachusetts 30.5
Washington 30.1
Wisconsin 29.7
West Virginia 29.5
Nebraska 29.1
Kansas 29.0
California 29.0
Wyoming 28.8
Alaska 28.6
Oklahoma 28.4
Nevada 27.6
Utah 27.5
South Dakota 27.5
New Mexico 27.2
Louisiana 26.9
Vermont 26.9
Idaho 26.8
Minnesota 26.7
Oregon 26.6
Iowa 25.5
Hawaii 25.3
Connecticut 24.6
North Dakota 23.2
Montana 22.6

 

City Rankings of Increase in Remote Work

We also calculated the increase in interest in remote work for around 200 metro areas across the country. These 50 metro areas have seen the biggest increase in interest:

METRO AREA INCREASE IN INTEREST
Columbus-Tupelo-West Point MS 48.6
Augusta GA 46
Charlottesville VA 45.5
Greenville-New Bern-Washington NC 44.4
Charlotte NC 44.3
Columbia SC 43.9
Hattiesburg-Laurel MS 43.2
Jackson TN 43
Jonesboro AR 43
Jackson MS 41.6
Macon GA 41.3
Gainesville FL 40.7
Montgomery (Selma) AL 40
Raleigh-Durham (Fayetteville) NC 40
Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne FL 39.9
Atlanta GA 39.5
Binghamton NY 38.9
Watertown NY 38.4
Tampa-St. Petersburg (Sarasota) FL 38.2
Bend OR 37.7
Phoenix AZ 37.5
Charleston SC 37.2
Richmond-Petersburg VA 37.2
Florence-Myrtle Beach SC 36.9
Dallas-Ft. Worth TX 36.2
Memphis TN 36
Tallahassee FL-Thomasville GA 35.8
Waco-Temple-Bryan TX 35.7
Wilmington NC 35.7
Chicago IL 35.4
Wheeling WV-Steubenville OH 35.3
Dothan AL 35.2
Philadelphia PA 34.9
Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem NC 34.5
Shreveport LA 34.5
Lansing MI 34.4
Nashville TN 34.3
Elmira NY 34.2
Denver CO 33.9
Tulsa OK 33.9
Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York PA 33.8
Portland-Auburn ME 33.8
Washington DC (Hagerstown MD) 33.7
Birmingham AL 33.4
Paducah KY-Cape Girardeau MO-Harrisburg-Mount Vernon IL 33.3
Syracuse NY 33.3
Houston TX 33.2
Louisville KY 33.2
Little Rock-Pine Bluff AR 33.1
Columbia-Jefferson City MO 33

 

Methodology

We extracted the frequency of searches in each state about remote work using a number of relevant search phrases. We then examined the differences in search frequencies for these keywords two years before COVID versus two years after the start COVID. We control for seasonal changes in remote job interest by comparing a full two years before COVID to a full two years after. We use March 11, 2020 as the official start of COVID-19 as this is when it was declared a pandemic in the US. We report the amounts searches for remote work increased in each state and city after COVID-19 began. We also examine the relationship between these trends and local cost of living in each area.

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