Telecommuting helped keep Utah’s economy afloat during pandemic, study finds

SALT LAKE CITY — New analysis from the Utah Department of Workforce Services reveals that working from home has helped keep the state’s economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency recently published an analysis of “The Great Experiment”, as DWS Chief Economist Mark Knold calls it.

“We all had to do this,” he said in an interview with FOX 13 on Tuesday.

Using survey data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Knold said he observed the impact of a dramatic expansion of telecommuting on Utah.

“What we saw was that about 35% of domestic workers had been moved from working somewhere outside the home, now inside the home,” he said.

The most important months for teleworking were April and May last year. It has started to fade as sectors of the economy reopen.

“It’s still roughly 20-25% of workers overall who telecommute,” Knold said.

The largest telecommuting demographics are women, older people, and highly educated people.

“Men are very dominant in industries that can’t telecommute. Mining, construction, manufacturing,” Knold said.

Economically, the Utah employment agency said telecommuting has kept industries going.

“If it was an environment 20 years ago where we didn’t have the tools to be able to do it? Advances in computers, the internet, security around those, we would have had to make a choice really difficult,” he said. . “Shut down the economy even more than we have, or we cannot afford to shut down the economy and we will have to live with the consequences.”

The State of Utah was experimenting with telecommuting long before the COVID-1`9 pandemic hit. Then Lt. Governor Spencer Cox defended him. This year, the Utah State Legislature passed a bill to classify each state employee according to whether or not their job allows them to telecommute. The bill was originally designed to work on days with poor air quality, but is expected to expand beyond that.

“There’s a group of people who actually prefer, given the choice between being in the office and telecommuting, they’ll choose telecommuting. I’m one of them,” said Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, who sponsored The law project. .

He said data from the Utah Department of Workforce Services was promising.

“It’s really impressive when you look at the data, to realize how much the possibility of working from home has really changed and saved our economy,” he said.

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