The migration of remote workers in the US

The migration of remote workers in the US
Source: Barbara Goldberg, Reuters
Some of the nation’s smaller cities are attempting to draw remote workers by offering them financial compensation.

A new migration in the United States has started due to the pandemic, with some cities attempting to incentivize remote workers to move there by offering cash offerings. Millions of Americans have started moving away from tier 1 cities such as New York and Los Angeles to tier 2 cities like Denver or Austin.

The pandemic migration

According to a recent Upwork study, 14 to 23 million Americans have expressed a desire to move due to the flexibility offered by remote work.

Adam Ozimek, Upwork Chief Economist, wrote in his report the following: “Remote work presents a potential solution for those seeking job opportunities that don’t want to pay the high housing costs of a major city. As our survey shows, many people see remote work as an opportunity to relocate to where they want and where they can afford to live. This is an early indicator of the much larger impacts that remote work could have in increasing economic efficiency and spreading opportunity."

The study also found that 54.7% of residents in large cities are moving two or more hours away from their current location, indicating that they expect remote working to be a permanent fixture.

This shift is causing high price markets to take a hit. In fact, according to a November report from, New York City has seen a record decline in the price of rent with apartments in the city falling 19% in rent from their 2019 rate.

While many Americans are looking to lower their monthly housing expenses, the data indicates that this migration from larger cities positively impacts the housing market in these highly concentrated areas.

Moving incentives for remote workers

Some of the nation’s smaller cities are attempting to draw remote workers by offering them financial compensation.

Smaller cities across America have offered US$10,000 or more to remote workers willing to relocate to their cities. Tulsa began its program, Tulsa Remote, in 2019, but traction for the program didn’t ramp up until the pandemic was in full swing.

The program offers more than just a US$10,000 bonus for eligible remote workers. Tulsa Remote also offers remote workers a unique working opportunity through their Coworking Community. Here, remote workers can acquire an office space alongside other remote workers who may not even be in the same industry.

Considering more people are working from home than ever before due to the coronavirus pandemic, these programs start to get more attention as people in larger cities seek more space and affordable housing.

The reported tech exodus

Along with recent migration incentives offered to remote workers, there have also been reports of a tech exodus occurring in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area.

While there have been concerns about the implications of the exodus, recent data points from MarketWatch indicate that Silicon Valley has little to be worried about.

According to the website, Silicon Valley remains the world’s undisputed tech capital, showing a continued record investment in the industry in 2020.

Due to massive gains from some of the largest tech companies in Silicon Valley, reports from MarketWatch indicate that the market capitalization climbed 37% to US$10.5 trillion last year.

Along with record investments, MarketWatch indicates that there haven’t been any significant declines in population and jobs in Silicon Valley. However, the website does indicate that these numbers are only showing the population changes that occurred in 2020.

With remote workers continuing to migrate across the country, the future of Silicon Valley is still relatively unknown.

“It’s not going to be an immediate change," Patrick Kellerman, research director for the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, told MarketWatch. “The Bay Area isn’t going to be a ghost town in six months. We’re asking ourselves if this is going to be a long-term, significant change."

The future of remote work

Overall, studies indicate that remote workers are happier and tend to stay at jobs longer.

Furthermore, only 11% of remote workers have expressed a desire to no longer work from home. The remaining 89% would either prefer to work at home full-time or only spend some time in an office in a more hybrid model of remote working.

There are many potential positive and negative outcomes that remote work offers, but many of these outcomes are unknown as this new way of working is still in its infancy. The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world, but its lasting effects on remote work are largely still unknown.

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