College degree ticket to telecommuting, study reveals

New data out of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics finds 38 percent workers with college degrees now do at least part of their work from home.

Close to one out of four employees within the United States now perform at least some of their work at home. Home-office workers were seven times more likely to have a bachelor's degree than those with minimal levels of formal education.

Photo credit: Joe McKendrick

These are some of the findings of the "American Time Use Survey," conducted and released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bureau's survey of 150,000 workers found on days they worked, 23 percent of employed persons did some or all of their work at home.

Among workers age 25 and over, those with a bachelor's degree or higher were more likely to work at home than were persons with less education--38 percent of those with a bachelor's degree or higher performed some work at home on days worked compared with five percent of those with less than a high school diploma.

As Alan Pisarski, author of the Commuting in America book series, put it in an interview with USA Today, the trend toward college graduates working at home is a "quiet revolution" that comes with the growth of the  high-tech knowledge economy. Educated professional and creative-class workers prefer to work at home, and there's no reason why their work can't be accomplished off-site.

Notably, however, Marissa Meyer, CEO of Yahoo, sees things differently, suggesting that having a dispersed workforce of home-based professionals means fewer opportunities for interaction and exchange of ideas.

There is also the possibility that higher-level professional jobs are more demanding, so these workers end up taking work home with them on their off-hours. But there's no suggestion of that in the BLS data -- everyone, regardless of educational attainment, works about eight hours a day.

Ironically, those without college diplomas that do end up working from home report spending more hours in that venue than college-educated home workers. It's likely there is more self-employment among the ranks.

Who's Working from Home at Least Part of the Time --  By Educational Attainment

Percent working from home full or part time Average # hours worked/day Average # hours worked at home/day
Bachelor's degree or higher
38.4% 7.98 hours 2.87 hours
Some college of associate degree 21.1% 8.18 hours 3.17 hours
High school graduates, no college 12.7% 8.04 hours 3.56 hours
Less than a high-school diploma 5.4% 7.9 hours 3.18 hours
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

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