The COVID-19 pandemic precipitated a once-in-a-lifetime disruption of interpersonal activities. Attendance at in-person gatherings, whether for school, work, family, or even worship, was either restricted or prohibited altogether. Today, many societal functions such as education, entertainment, worship, and travel have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. At the same time, many commercial activities—especially white-collar office jobs—remain online or are now “hybrid” (i.e., with both remote and in-person options). This shift from working at office buildings or other job sites to one’s own home (WFH) in some sectors of the economy disrupted labor markets and remains an enduring societal reminder of the pandemic.
“McLean County, for example, has a large proportion of its workers in finance and insurance occupations. In contrast, Kankakee County has a larger proportion of workers in health care and manufacturing,” said David Merriman, a co-author of the Policy Spotlight and interim director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs. “The types of occupations and industries present in a county contribute greatly to whether the county’s labor force could work from home.”