Bay Area leads state in percentage working from home

Region has seven the state’s top 10 cities for remote employees

(Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)
(Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)

There’s a reason up to a third of Bay Area downtown offices are vacant: the region contains seven of the state’s top 10 cities for people working from home.

Bay Area cities made up most of the top California cities with the highest shares of employed people who mostly worked from home last year, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. 

The newspaper analyzed just-released U.S. Census data of cities with at least 65,000 people. Of those, Mountain View had the highest work-from-home rate of any California city at 50 percent, a 46 percent increase from 2019, the year before the pandemic.

San Francisco had the fifth highest remote-work rate of any state city at 46 percent, up 38 percent from three years ago.

In nine counties across the Bay Area, 5.8 percent of employees worked from home in 2019, compared to 5.7 percent across the U.S.

Last year, the number of Bay Area workers crouched over home office desks exceeded 33 percent, while the number of Americans working at home was 18 percent.

The reason, according to Stanford Professor Nicholas Bloom: The Bay Area, and especially Silicon Valley, has a high dose of tech jobs, which gobble hours of computer time and are ideal for remote work.

The Bay Area also has a higher share of college-educated workers compared to California and the U.S. Higher education, especially post-graduate degrees, drives remote work because it generally leads to computer-based jobs, he said.

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Of Bay Area residents 25 and older, 50 percent have college degrees. That’s 14 percent more than in California and 15 percent higher than the U.S.

California cities with the highest rates of workers in “management, business, art and science” roles saw the largest increase in work from home rates, according to the Chronicle analysis.

On average, for every 10 percent increase in workers in management, business, art and science roles, the share of remote workers rose by 6 percent from 2019 to 2021.

Of the 10 top California cities where people worked from home last year, Mountain View was No. 1 with half working from home, followed by Fremont at 49 percent, Sunnyvale at 47 percent and Berkeley and San Francisco both at 46 percent. Santa Clara came in at No. 8 at 40 percent, followed by Redwood City at 39 percent, the Chronicle reported.

This year, workers in the San Francisco metro market spent 38 percent less time in the office last month than before the onset of the pandemic in 2020, according to Google mobility data. Office vacancy in San Francisco in the second quarter stood at 22.4 percent, with downtown Oakland at 32 percent.

In San Francisco, officials are pondering how to reverse the office exodus, which has hurt local businesses and threatens to impact tax revenue and the city’s bottom line.

— Dana Bartholomew

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