Americans Are Living Farther and Farther From Their Workplaces

Workers’ average distance to their employer increased from 10 miles in 2019 to 27 miles in 2023, a study shows.
Taryn Phaneuf
By Taryn Phaneuf 
Edited by Rick VanderKnyff

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

Freed, perhaps, from a daily jaunt to the office, the average American worker now lives almost three times farther from their job than they did before the pandemic, research shows.

Workers’ average distance to their employer increased from 10 miles in 2019 to 27 miles in 2023, according to a study released March 3 by Gusto, a payroll software firm, and the Stanford WFH Group, a team studying work-from-home trends.

The study analyzes Gusto’s payroll data from about 5,800 small and midsize businesses from 2018 to 2023. Distances were measured by linking employees’ addresses with employer locations.

Track all the money you make
See the ins and outs of your cash, cards, and bank accounts at a glance.

The data shows the distance between workers and their employers is most pronounced among people who started in their jobs after the pandemic hit. Workers hired in March 2020 or later lived 35 miles from their employer in December 2023, on average. That’s more than twice the distance of people hired before March 2020.

While the payroll data doesn’t explicitly show that people living farthest from their employer are taking advantage of hybrid or remote work arrangements, the results line up with years of research by the Stanford WFH Group showing the dramatic impact the pandemic had on where work is performed.

Before the pandemic, just about 7% of paid workdays were performed at home. In February, the share of days spent working from home was 28%, according to the group’s most recent Survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes released March 5.

Work-from-home trend a factor, researchers say

Because working from home reduces the number of times per week a person has to commute to an office — or eliminates the commute entirely — workers could move farther from their employer or seek a job that might have been impossible before because of the distance, the researchers said.

That’s what happened during the pandemic, as people sought bigger houses with room for a home office, says Jose Maria Barrero, an assistant professor of finance at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) Business School and a member of the Stanford WFH Group.

Barrero sees the clearest connection in the rise in the number of workers living an “uncommutable” distance from their employer. The study shows 5.5% of workers lived more than 50 miles from their employers at the end of 2023 — up from 0.8% in 2019. The rate is much higher for workers in certain industries. Researchers found that more than 20% of tech workers lived 100 miles or more from their employer.

“Once you have somebody living significantly far away from their assigned work location, it sort of has to be fully remote,” Barrero says.

The study also shows groups that could be assumed to have the most interest in or the best access to work-from-home opportunities are living farthest from their employer. According to the study:

  • People in their 30s (prime parenting age, the study notes) lived the farthest from their jobs compared with other age groups.

  • Office workers — specifically those working in tech, finance and insurance, and professional services — lived farther from their employer, on average, than those in industries where working from home is less feasible (like construction).

  • Higher income earners (those earning $100,000 or more per year) lived farther from their employers compared with other groups based on income.