New survey tells us about pandemic travel

One out of four workers in the region worked from home in 2021

Nearly 2,800 households in King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties took part in the latest PSRC Household Travel Survey, keeping diaries of where they traveled, why and how they got around in spring 2021.

PSRC conducts the travel survey every other year. This newest release shows the impact of COVID-19 on travel habits and other aspects of daily life in the region.

A set of questions we asked in this survey was about whether people commuted to work and what they did before the COVID-19 shutdowns.

In spring 2021, 5 out of 10 workers commuted to the same office or workplace every day. For this same group of workers who responded to the 2021 survey, 7 out of 10 did that before March 2020.

Not surprisingly, the survey showed a spike in working from home, with 26%—one out of every four workers—doing their jobs at home full-time in 2021. Only 8% of workers surveyed in 2021 worked from home daily before the pandemic.

Some industries were much more likely to have more teleworkers than others:

Industries with the fewest teleworkers

  • Construction & Resources
  • Education
  • Health care & Social Services
  • Hospitality & Retail
  • Manufacturing
  • Military
  • Personal Services & Childcare
  • Transportation & Utilities

Industries with the most teleworkers

  • Finance & Real Estate
  • Government
  • Media & Entertainment
  • Professional & Business Services
  • Technology & Telecommunications

PSRC’s Household Travel Survey is an important tool for transportation planning because it provides a representative dataset of how all residents travel in the region.

While other data sources may tell us how many cars are on the highway or how many people use transit, the travel survey asks travelers themselves about their trips. Survey responses help planners and others understand why people travel (for example, stopping to pick up kids on the way to go shopping), how they choose to get there (like hopping on a scooter to get to a bus stop), as well as the demographics of travelers.

Past survey releases have yielded invaluable insights on topics like housing displacement, transit use and car ownership by people of color, and the rising popularity of online shopping and home delivery services.

You can explore Travel Survey data yourself with the Travel Survey Data Explorer on the 2021 Household Travel Survey web page.