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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Telecommuting Rates During the Pandemic Differ by Job Type, Income, and Gender

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The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic caused massive travel disruptions across the country. Many people nationwide shifted to telework following stay-at-home orders, while those providing essential operations and services continued to travel to work. The pandemic’s impacts on travel behavior have complex environmental and equity implications. Telecommuting can be a means of decreasing vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions associated with commuter travel and can reduce congestion during peak times. However, not all jobs can be performed from home. Policymakers and regulators who are considering policies to encourage telecommuting to achieve greenhouse gas reduction goals need to consider potential inequities that may arise or be intensified by these policies.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis examined the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on telecommuting patterns among various socio-demographic groups in the United States. During the early stages of the pandemic in Spring 2020 they reached out to households that had participated in previous longitudinal travel studies to measure changes in household activities, personal preferences, and travel patterns due to the pandemic. This policy brief summarizes the findings from that research and provides policy implications.

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