COVID-19

Study looks at the time and money people are saving by not commuting

Andy Uhler Sep 2, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Los Angeles' famously crowded freeways were empty in April, during the height of the pandemic, as many office workers stayed home. Mario Tama/Getty Images
COVID-19

Study looks at the time and money people are saving by not commuting

Andy Uhler Sep 2, 2020
Los Angeles' famously crowded freeways were empty in April, during the height of the pandemic, as many office workers stayed home. Mario Tama/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Prior to the pandemic, hopping in their cars to go to work was just what a lot of folks did. 

A new study from the car-shopping app CoPilot found that newly remote workers nationwide have gained, on average, a little more than 10% of their workweek back. All that time and money people spend getting to the office and back also adds up to some serious cash.

Bill Eisele said his commute in central Texas before COVID-19 was about 25 minutes each way. He knows that’s relatively short. Eisele’s a research engineer at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

“In 2017, each auto commuter was wasting $1,000 being stuck in traffic,” he said.

That’s $1,000 a year for time and fuel. He said people like him who can work from home are saving that time and money.

“I can’t imagine how that doesn’t continue to influence for quite some time,” Eisele said.

For years, government policies have tried to encourage people to take public transit or commute in different ways. Elliot Martin, research and development engineer at the University of California, Berkeley, said now companies might develop new policies to encourage telecommuting.

“I think the design of these policies potentially could receive new attention and new review based on what we’ve learned,” Martin said.

He said cutting out the commute also reduces gasoline consumption and CO2 emissions. 

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Are states ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines?

Claire Hannan, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials, said states have been making good progress in their preparations. And we could have several vaccines pretty soon. But states still need more funding, she said. Hannan doesn’t think a lack of additional funding would hold up distribution initially, but it could cause problems down the road. “It’s really worrisome that Congress may not pass funding or that there’s information circulating saying that states don’t need additional funding,” she said.

How is the service industry dealing with the return of coronavirus restrictions?

Without another round of something like the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept a lot of businesses afloat during the pandemic’s early stages, the outlook is bleak for places like restaurants. Some in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, only got one week of indoor dining back before cases rose and restrictions went back into effect. Restaurant owners are revamping their business models in an effort to survive while waiting to see if they’ll be able to get more aid.

How are hospitals handling the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases?

As the pandemic surges and more medical professionals themselves are coming down with COVID, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country report having a critical shortage of staff, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the knock-on effects of staff shortages is that people who have other medical needs are being asked to wait.

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