Is working from home here to stay?

I am a regular reader of Josh Lehner’s writing for the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis. This week, he published a nice write-up on data comparing the percentage of workers working from home in Oregon. That across the board, from Portland to rural Oregon, home employment was significantly higher in 2021 than in 2019 should surprise no one.

How permanent this will be remains uncertain. We will eventually get this data for 2022, and it will be interesting to see if around one-third of Portlanders are still working from home. Lehner suggests we should wait until 2023 becomes available to draw conclusions on how permanent this is.

Another thing to consider is how this will affect migration choices. Intuitively, our choice of residence can be more decoupled from where our employer is located. If one can hold a job in Portland with higher wages while enjoying the lower cost of living in Idaho, might we see a sustained migration of workers to our better-governed eastern neighbor? That’s another trend to watch over the next two years’ data. “Greater Idaho” might evolve into a great migration to Idaho.

Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is the author of We were winning when I was there.