Remote Work Growth Reaches 159% Since 2005: FlexJobs & GWA Report


Remote Work Growth Reaches 159% Since 2005: FlexJobs & GWA Report 1

If it feels like you know more and more people who work remotely, you’re not wrong. The number of people telecommuting in the U.S. increased 159% between 2005 and 2017.

This new data on remote work growth is based on a special analysis of the American Community Survey (ACS) by Global Workplace Analytics, the remote and flexible work consulting firm, and FlexJobs. The ACS offers the most current U.S. government data about remote work available and was collected by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2017 and released in 2018.

Below you’ll find the most up-to-date statistics about remote work in the United States as analyzed by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics. FlexJobs also partnered with Global Workplace Analytics to create the “State of Telecommuting” report in 2017.

Here are six new statistics about remote work in the U.S.:

In order to understand these statistics better, it’s important to know that “telecommuters” or “remote workers” refers to non-self-employed people who principally work from home at least half-time. It doesn’t include anyone who works remotely as a freelancer, business owner, or entrepreneur. The information tells us who is working for a company and doing so from home at least half the time.

  • Since 2005 remote work has grown 159%.
  • Between 2016 and 2017 remote work grew 7.9%.
  • Over the last five years, remote work growth is at 44%.
  • Over the last 10 years remote work has grown 91%.
  • 3.4% of the total U.S. workforce are remote workers, up from 2.9% in 2015.
  • 4.7 million people in the U.S. currently telecommute, up from 3.9 million in 2015.

Remote work growth for the past 5, 10, and 12 years

“It’s important to note that full-time and even half-time telecommuters are among the minority. A far larger portion of the workforce, about half, works from home at least once a month,” said Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics. “Talent shortages are fueling the growth of workplace flexibility right now because not only is it one of the most sought-after benefits among job seekers today, it also expands the talent pool by allowing employers to hire the best and the brightest from around the world,” said Lister.

FlexJobs’ annual survey of more than 3,000 of people seeking flexible and remote work shows that remote work is by far the most popular flexible work type. Eighty percent of respondents want to telecommute 100% of the time, followed by having a flexible schedule (71%), having a part-time schedule (47%), and telecommuting some of the time (46%).

“Remote work has grown steadily since 2005, as companies of all types—private, public, nonprofit, or startup—continue to recognize the bottom-line benefits of integrating remote work into their business strategies,” said Sara Sutton, founder and CEO of FlexJobs. “With improvements to technology, and increasing demands from employees in a tight labor market, we fully expect to see the momentum around this important workplace continue to grow,” Sutton concluded.

According to FlexJobs’ annual analysis of the “100 Top Companies with Remote Jobs,” the top five remote career fields are:

  • Computer and IT
  • Medical and health
  • Sales
  • Education and training
  • Customer service

For a deeper dive into the state of remote work in the U.S., and the growth of remote work, see the “2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce” report, based on 2015 data.


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