Thursday, April 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Growing number of telecommuters changing job market

A sweeping change has transformed the job market.

But it’s been happening slowly – over the course of three decades – so you may not have noticed, unless it’s occurring right under your own roof.

Some 4.4 percent of all workers work from home, up from 2.3 percent in 1980, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

While 4.4 percent may sound like it’s still a tiny slice, it’s not, say experts. Stanford University economics professor Nicholas Bloom, for instance, notes that the rise is “massive and reflects a widespread increase in home-based working.”

Moreover, the data understates the trend, because millions work at home for part of their workweek, adds Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

“If your job is unloading trucks, you can’t work at home,” says Carnevale. But since the 1980’s there’s been a shift from manufacturing and other on-site jobs to work that requires only a telephone and/or a computer, he explains..

“Full-time, at-home jobs are offered by a wide variety of industries, which is often surprising to people,” adds Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs.

Home-based workers can command pay commensurate with on-site workers, according to Carnevale.

“The distribution of salaries for home workers is wide,” he says. “A lawyer who’s a partner in a firm, for instance, may work at home and earn a lot of money,”

However, Carnevale notes that one key reason companies like home-based employees is because they can easily “expand and contract these networks [of home-based workers]. When business declines, these are the people who lose their job, whereas the ‘core’ workforce usually are working on-site.”

© CTW Features

Marilyn Kennedy Melia CTW Features