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Cities Where Parents Can’t Work From Home

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of workers transitioned to working from home all or part of the time. At its peak, about 35% of workers teleworked because of the pandemic. However, many jobs are not conducive to working from home —a fact that has been especially challenging for parents with kids living at home. Besides reduced flexibility in work location, workers who can’t telecommute also tend to earn less, which for parents, limits alternative childcare options.

Data collected in 2018 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that a majority of high-earning workers had the ability to work from home while the vast majority of workers with low wages did not have the option to work from home. It’s not surprising then that when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down in-person schools and childcare, the results were devastating for many low-wage families. A recent study by researchers at Northwestern University found that nearly 20% of working parents had to leave work or reduce their hours because of a lack of childcare options, and the study found significant income and gender disparities in the data. Whereas high-earners were more likely to be able to work from home or pay for at-home care, low-wage workers tended to lack either option.

By combining data from a recent University of Chicago study with statistics from the Census Bureau, researchers at CoPilot calculated that only about 32% of parents with children living at home work in remote-friendly occupations. While this is slightly higher than the percentage across all workers (29%), it still indicates that over two-thirds of parents lack the flexibility of at-home work. Interestingly, while working mothers are more likely than working fathers to hold remote-friendly jobs, they are also more likely to have left their job during the pandemic due to a lack of childcare—a trend that highlights the persistent impact of traditional gender roles in parenting decisions.

The prevalence of telecommuting among parents varies across the country and depends heavily on local economic conditions. Areas with large hospitality, retail, and agriculture sectors tend to have fewer remote-friendly jobs, while locations with high concentrations of technology, finance, legal, and education occupations tend to have more. At the state level, Nevada and Arkansas have the lowest shares of working parents in remote-friendly jobs at just 24.2% and 26.1%, respectively. In contrast, New Jersey and New Hampshire have the highest shares of working parents in remote-friendly jobs, at 37.8% and 36.4%, respectively.


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To determine the locations where parents lack the ability to telecommute, CoPilot analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau as well as data from the University of Chicago. Metro areas were ranked by the share of working parents in remote-friendly jobs. Researchers also calculated the share of working mothers and fathers in remote-friendly jobs and the median earnings of parents in remote-friendly jobs and in non-remote friendly jobs.

To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis. Additionally, metro areas were grouped into the following cohorts based on population size: 

  • Small metros: 100,000–349,999
  • Midsize metros: 350,000–999,999
  • Large metros: 1,000,000 or more

Here are the metros with the lowest shares of working parents in remote-friendly jobs.

Large Metros Where Parents Can’t Telecommute


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

15. Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN

  • Share of working parents in remote-friendly jobs: 31.8%
  • Share of working moms in remote-friendly jobs: 35.1%
  • Share of working fathers in remote-friendly jobs: 28.2%
  • Median earnings of parents in remote-friendly jobs: $55,000
  • Median earnings of parents in non-remote-friendly jobs: $40,300


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

14. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

  • Share of working parents in remote-friendly jobs: 31.4%
  • Share of working moms in remote-friendly jobs: 37.5%
  • Share of working fathers in remote-friendly jobs: 26.4%
  • Median earnings of parents in remote-friendly jobs: $70,000
  • Median earnings of parents in non-remote-friendly jobs: $40,000

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13. Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN

  • Share of working parents in remote-friendly jobs: 31.1%
  • Share of working moms in remote-friendly jobs: 34.5%
  • Share of working fathers in remote-friendly jobs: 27.8%
  • Median earnings of parents in remote-friendly jobs: $55,000
  • Median earnings of parents in non-remote-friendly jobs: $45,500


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

12. Providence-Warwick, RI-MA

  • Share of working parents in remote-friendly jobs: 31.1%
  • Share of working moms in remote-friendly jobs: 37.3%
  • Share of working fathers in remote-friendly jobs: 24.8%
  • Median earnings of parents in remote-friendly jobs: $62,000
  • Median earnings of parents in non-remote-friendly jobs: $48,000


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

11. Memphis, TN-MS-AR

  • Share of working parents in remote-friendly jobs: 30.8%
  • Share of working moms in remote-friendly jobs: 36.8%
  • Share of working fathers in remote-friendly jobs: 24.2%
  • Median earnings of parents in remote-friendly jobs: $55,000
  • Median earnings of parents in non-remote-friendly jobs: $40,000


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

10. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

  • Share of working parents in remote-friendly jobs: 30.3%
  • Share of working moms in remote-friendly jobs: 39.5%
  • Share of working fathers in remote-friendly jobs: 23.1%
  • Median earnings of parents in remote-friendly jobs: $61,000
  • Median earnings of parents in non-remote-friendly jobs: $45,000


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

9. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL

  • Share of working parents in remote-friendly jobs: 30.3%
  • Share of working moms in remote-friendly jobs: 35.2%
  • Share of working fathers in remote-friendly jobs: 25.8%
  • Median earnings of parents in remote-friendly jobs: $50,000
  • Median earnings of parents in non-remote-friendly jobs: $36,000


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

8. San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX

  • Share of working parents in remote-friendly jobs: 30.1%
  • Share of working moms in remote-friendly jobs: 36.1%
  • Share of working fathers in remote-friendly jobs: 24.6%
  • Median earnings of parents in remote-friendly jobs: $52,000
  • Median earnings of parents in non-remote-friendly jobs: $39,000


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

7. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL

  • Share of working parents in remote-friendly jobs: 29.7%
  • Share of working moms in remote-friendly jobs: 34.9%
  • Share of working fathers in remote-friendly jobs: 24.9%
  • Median earnings of parents in remote-friendly jobs: $50,000
  • Median earnings of parents in non-remote-friendly jobs: $35,000


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

6. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI

  • Share of working parents in remote-friendly jobs: 29.4%
  • Share of working moms in remote-friendly jobs: 33.6%
  • Share of working fathers in remote-friendly jobs: 25.3%
  • Median earnings of parents in remote-friendly jobs: $65,000
  • Median earnings of parents in non-remote-friendly jobs: $46,000


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

5. New Orleans-Metairie, LA

  • Share of working parents in remote-friendly jobs: 28.9%
  • Share of working moms in remote-friendly jobs: 34.6%
  • Share of working fathers in remote-friendly jobs: 22.7%
  • Median earnings of parents in remote-friendly jobs: $52,000
  • Median earnings of parents in non-remote-friendly jobs: $45,000

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4. Oklahoma City, OK

  • Share of working parents in remote-friendly jobs: 28.5%
  • Share of working moms in remote-friendly jobs: 32.9%
  • Share of working fathers in remote-friendly jobs: 24.4%
  • Median earnings of parents in remote-friendly jobs: $53,000
  • Median earnings of parents in non-remote-friendly jobs: $40,000


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

3. Tucson, AZ

  • Share of working parents in remote-friendly jobs: 28.5%
  • Share of working moms in remote-friendly jobs: 35.0%
  • Share of working fathers in remote-friendly jobs: 22.5%
  • Median earnings of parents in remote-friendly jobs: $45,000
  • Median earnings of parents in non-remote-friendly jobs: $36,000


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

2. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA

  • Share of working parents in remote-friendly jobs: 25.7%
  • Share of working moms in remote-friendly jobs: 33.5%
  • Share of working fathers in remote-friendly jobs: 19.6%
  • Median earnings of parents in remote-friendly jobs: $57,000
  • Median earnings of parents in non-remote-friendly jobs: $40,000


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

1. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV

  • Share of working parents in remote-friendly jobs: 24.6%
  • Share of working moms in remote-friendly jobs: 28.9%
  • Share of working fathers in remote-friendly jobs: 20.7%
  • Median earnings of parents in remote-friendly jobs: $55,000
  • Median earnings of parents in non-remote-friendly jobs: $40,000

Detailed Findings & Methodology

Many of the metros where few parents can telecommute are tourist destinations that have large hospitality industries or metros with low concentrations of white-collar jobs. Working parents in Las Vegas, Miami, and Orlando are likely to work in restaurants, hotels, or other hospitality-related jobs, which are not conducive to working remotely. Similarly, working parents who live in places like Detroit or Houston are more likely to work in manufacturing or oil and gas, and also don’t have the ability to telecommute.

Across nearly all locations, working mothers are more likely to be in remote-friendly jobs than working fathers. Many occupations and industries that are male-dominated—including agriculture, construction, and manufacturing—are not conducive to remote work. On the other hand, many female-dominated jobs—such as in education, administrative support, and social services—can often be done remotely.

In nearly all of the metros with the lowest shares of parents in remote-friendly jobs, median earnings for parents in remote-friendly jobs are higher than the median earnings of parents in non-remote friendly jobs. Not only do working parents in non-remote friendly jobs tend to earn less, meaning they have less money to pay for childcare, but they don’t have the same flexibility in terms of work location. These difficulties are likely contributing to the current labor shortage.

To determine the metros where parents can’t telecommute, CoPilot analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample (ACS PUMS) and a University of Chicago study on remote-friendly occupations. Metro areas were ranked by the share of working parents in remote-friendly jobs. In the event of a tie, the metro with the smaller number of working parents in remote-friendly jobs was ranked higher. Researchers also calculated the share of working mothers and fathers in remote-friendly jobs and the median earnings of parents in remote-friendly jobs and in non-remote friendly jobs.

Only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis. Additionally, metro areas were grouped into the following cohorts based on population size: 

  • Small metros: 100,000–349,999
  • Midsize metros: 350,000–999,999
  • Large metros: 1,000,000 or more