With more people working from home, is traffic getting better in the DC area?

The number of people working from home tripled nationwide between 2019 and 2021, according to recent U.S. Census Bureau data. With teleworking more popular in the aftermath of the pandemic, what does this mean for the D.C.-area commute?

With fewer people commuting to work, is traffic lighter and is it easier to get to the office, even on D.C.’s notoriously congested roads? The answer is kind of.

WTOP Traffic reporter Dave Dildine said that while congestion is back around, it’s different from before.

“The big difference from pre-pandemic to the new traffic age is there’s more variance from day to day,” Dildine said. “With more office flexibility comes less traffic predictability.”

While the volume has built back to pre-pandemic levels, Dildine said flexible work schedules have also changed traffic patterns.

“Less traffic on Mondays for sure, that was and still is one of the more popular telework days, then it edges up through midweek and late week,” he said.

A nationwide household pulse survey by the Census Bureau released on Oct. 5 found over 65 million people teleworked at least once in the last seven days, while more than 35 million said they worked from home for five days.

The data showed that Virginia and Maryland trail D.C. residents percentage-wise in embracing work from home. It included anyone 18 and older in a household who worked or teleworked from home in the previous seven days.

In the District, which has a population of about 490,000, more than half of those surveyed said they worked from home at least one day in the past week, while over 120,000 people reported that they teleworked at least five days.

With a population of 6.5 million, Virginia had nearly 2 million people who responded that they teleworked at least one day, while 980,000 said they worked from home for five days.

Lastly, in Maryland — with a population of 4.6 million — 1.8 million of those who were surveyed said they teleworked at least one day, while around 820,000 answered that they worked from home for five days.

Kyle Cooper

Weekend and fill-in anchor Kyle Cooper has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years, Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP, Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

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