The coronavirus pandemic has transformed the way we work, learn, and interact on short notice. Turns out, COVID-19 could also be reshaping metro areas around the country.

Image: iStock/IvanPantic

In 2020, Blind, an anonymous network for professionals, conducted a survey in partnership with housing app ROOM8 to understand employer sentiments “toward permanent remote working,” workforce relocation trends, and more. The results found that many respondents had recently fled major cities around the US. To understand what percentage of respondents moved away from a major city “since WFH began,” what cities people were leaving, and where they had since relocated, Blind conducted a survey from Jan. 29 and Feb. 8.

Turns out, COVID-19 and an untethered remote workforce could be reshaping metro areas around the country.

US workers on the move

Out of 6,135 responses, 23% said they had moved away from a major city since remote work began. About six-in-10 (58%) said they had not relocated and about 19% said they’d “not yet” moved.

As part of Blind’s anonymous framework, users are able to identify their place of employment and results can be parsed out by industry and employer. Bloomberg employees topped the relocation list with 39% of respondents saying they had moved away from a major city since remote work started. Uber and Twitter employees are close behind with 37%, respectively.

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Nearly three-quarters of Intel employees (72%) said they had not relocated during this time period, ranking ahead of NVIDIA and Apple employees by 6%. Interestingly, 29% of Adobe employees said they had “not yet” moved away from a major city topping this specific category.

Workers flee major cities

A portion of the survey is designed to determine which cities employees are fleeing. Out of 1,215 respondents, nearly half (47%) had left the San Francisco/Bay Area, 16% had left Seattle, and 14% vacated New York City. The remaining 22% of respondents selected “other.”

US relocation destinations

But where have all of these employees moved since the start of remote work? Out of 1,124 responses, 15% relocated to Austin and 9% moved to Seattle. Miami (7%) and Arizona (4%) were also top relocation destinations although the majority of respondents (66%) selected “other.”

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Millions of employees on the move

As we reported in October, up to 23 million US workers plan to move due to work from home flexibility, according to an Upwork survey. As a result of these relocations en masse, Upwork said that “near-term migration” rates in the US could be up to “four times what they normally are” and about one-in-five of those planning to relocate are based in major US cities.

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