Working From Home Is Saving Americans Billions of Dollars

September 1, 2020

As the pandemic shutdown offices across the country and working from home became the norm, one silver lining to the disruption was the elimination of the daily commute.

The Federal Highway Administration reports that in June, Americans drove 37 billion fewer miles than the same month last year. While a big portion of that decline is due to summer road trips being called off, the majority of it is attributable to the elimination of commuting, and that elimination is saving Americans a lot of money.

Workers who once commuted by car but now work from home are saving a total of $758 million per day, according to research from the freelance platform Upwork. That means that in the months since the pandemic began, Americans have saved more than $90 billion.

The savings are comprised of direct costs like gas and car maintenance, as well as indirect costs like road repairs and pollution. According to Upwork’s chief economist, one of the biggest costs of commuting is the loss of time. Calculating the exact value of time is tricky, but Upwork estimates that every hour of commuting by car costs Americans $12.50.

Commuting time had been steadily increasing in recent years, with the average American spending 54.2 minutes every day on the road. Now, with many companies likely to keep work from home programs in place even after the pandemic ends, the savings of both time and money may be permanent. 

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