Workers' relationships with their employers vary substantially. For example, workers with at least a bachelor's degree were more likely than those with less education to telework, control their schedules, and have autonomy over their work activities.
That said, measures of workers' opportunities in the job market, such as the share asking for or receiving a raise, increased over the prior year, and this was the case among those with and without a bachelor's degree.
Working from Home
A major change in many people's work lives since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was the increased prevalence of working from home, also known as remote work. In October 2022, 19 percent of adults who worked for someone else ("employees") worked entirely from home in the week before the survey and 20 percent did so some of the time. The share working entirely from home was down from 29 percent in 2020 and 22 percent in 2021, but well above the 7 percent who worked mostly from home in 2019, before the pandemic.18
Job type, employer rules, and personal preferences influenced whether people worked from home. Just under half (48 percent) of employees said they had a job that could not be done from home. Eleven percent of employees felt that their job could be done from home and that they would prefer to do so, but their employer would not allow it. A smaller 3 percent said that they could work from home but chose not to.
Employees who completed more education continued to be more likely to work from home. Twenty-seven percent of employees with at least a bachelor's degree worked entirely from home compared with 9 percent of those with a high school degree or less (figure 14).
One explanation for the differences by education is that employees with more education were more likely to have a job where they could work from home. Three-fourths of employees with at least a bachelor's degree either worked from home or said that they could if their employer would let them, compared with 25 percent among employees with a high school degree or less.
Common reasons for preferring to work from home were spending less time commuting, work-life balance, and increased productivity (table 5). Concerns about COVID-19 were less frequently cited. Additionally, the share of those working from home who cited COVID-19 concerns as a reason for their preference declined substantially in 2022 from that seen in the previous survey—falling from 56 percent to 40 percent.
Table 5. Reasons employees prefer to work from home
|Less time commuting||87|
|More productive working at home||73|
|Able to live in a different area||48|
|Concerns about COVID-19||40|
Note: Among adults who worked for someone else and worked from home at least some of the time. Respondents could select multiple answers.
In addition to asking about why employees preferred to work from home, the survey also asked those who worked from home about the likelihood of actively looking for another job or leaving their job if their employer required them to work in person each day. To provide context on these results, respondents were also asked if they would actively look for work if their employer froze their pay or cut their pay by different amounts.
Nearly 3 in 10 employees (28 percent) who worked from home at least some of the time said they would be very likely to actively look for another job if their employer required them to work in person each workday (figure 15).
Employees viewed a hypothetical in-person work requirement similarly to a hypothetical small decrease in pay. Of employees currently working from home at least some of the time, 18 percent would be very likely to look for another job if their employer froze their pay, while 52 percent would look for another job if their employer cut their pay by 10 percent (figure 15). For those currently working from home, the likelihood of looking for another job after a full-time in-person work requirement is consistent with that expected from a 2 to 3 percent pay cut.
For those currently working from home, the likelihood of looking for another job after a full-time in-person work requirement is consistent with that expected from a 2 to 3 percent pay cut.
Job Searching and Advancement
Indicators of workers' opportunities for new positions and pay advancement strengthened compared with 2021, as the share who received a raise, asked for a raise, or voluntarily left a job increased, while the share who lost a job decreased. Thirty-three percent of adults said they received a raise or a promotion in the prior 12 months, up slightly from 2021.19 A higher share also said they asked for a raise or promotion in 2022 than during 2021 (figure 16). Five percent of adults lost a job during the prior year, down from 7 percent in 2021.
Adults with more education were more likely to ask for or receive a raise than those with less education. They also were more likely to have applied to a new job, started a new job, or voluntarily left a job in the prior year. For example, 26 percent of adults with at least a bachelor's degree applied for a new job in the prior year and 17 percent started a new job. Among those with a high-school degree or less, a lower 18 percent applied for a new job and 11 percent started one. These indicators of how workers are faring in the job market were either similar to or above that seen in the prior year for each education group.
Most people who asked for a raise received one. Among those who asked for a raise in 2022, 70 percent also said that they received a raise. This share was similar in 2021 and was up 4 percentage points from 2019, before the pandemic.
Those who searched for a job also frequently found new work. Among people who applied for a new job, 52 percent reported starting a new job in 2022, up 3 percentage points from 2021 and up 7 percentage points from 2019.
Work Arrangements and Autonomy at Work
In addition to pay, other important dimensions of job quality are the duration of jobs, job schedules and autonomy. Seven percent of working adults (4 percent of all adults) said their main job was a temporary position. These temporary positions were most frequent among young workers and older workers. Nine percent of workers under age 30, and 11 percent of those age 60 or older, indicated that they had a temporary position, compared with 5 percent of workers between ages 30 and 59.
Although many people have regular work schedules, this is not the case for all workers. More than one-fourth (27 percent) of employees had irregular work schedules in 2022. This includes 16 percent who had a work schedule that varied based on their employer's needs, and 11 percent whose schedule varied at their own request.
Employees were also asked about how much choice they had to decide what tasks to work on and how to do those tasks. In general, employees were more likely to have control over how to complete tasks than which tasks they worked on. Nearly 6 in 10 employees said they often or always chose how to complete tasks, compared with 37 percent who said they often or always chose which tasks to work on.
Employees with at least a bachelor's degree reported higher levels of autonomy at work than those with lower levels of education (table 6). Forty-four percent of employees with at least a bachelor's degree said they often or always chose what tasks to work on, and more than two-thirds said they chose how to complete tasks. In contrast, around one-third (32 percent) of employees without a bachelor's degree often or always chose what tasks to work on and one-half chose how to complete tasks.20
Table 6. Share who often or always choose what tasks to work on and how to complete tasks (by education and race/ethnicity)
|Characteristic||What tasks to work on||How to complete tasks|
|Less than a high school degree||35||49|
|High school degree or GED||31||49|
|Some college/technical or associate degree||32||51|
|Bachelor's degree or more||44||68|
Note: Among adults who worked for someone else.
Autonomy at work also differed by race and ethnicity, though these differences were smaller than those by education (table 6). About one-third of both Black and Hispanic employees said they often or always chose what tasks to work on, compared with 39 percent of White employees. Black and Hispanic employees were also less likely to report that they chose how to complete tasks.
Reasons for Not Working
Twenty-three percent of prime-age adults (ages 25 to 54) were not working in the month before the survey, matching the share who were not working in 2021. This share is less than the 26 percent who were not working in 2020 during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic but is greater than the 21 percent not working in 2019, before the pandemic.21
Health limitations or disability, as well as family or personal obligations besides childcare, were the most commonly cited reasons for not working, followed by an inability to find work. Consistent with the continued strength of the labor market, the 6 percent of prime-age adults said that they were not working because they could not find work was similar to the share of adults who cited this reason in 2021 (5 percent), and in late 2019, before the pandemic (5 percent).
Notable differences existed in prime-age employment rates by gender. Twenty-eight percent of prime-age women were not working, compared with 18 percent of prime-age men.
This difference may reflect greater family and childcare responsibilities held by women. Prime-age women were more likely than men to cite both childcare and other family or personal obligations as a reason for not working (table 7). Moreover, among prime-age adults living with their children under age 18, one-third of women were not working in October 2022, compared with 12 percent of men. Prime-age men and women who did not live with their children under age 18 had similar rates of not working to each other.
Table 7. Reasons for not working among prime-age adults (by gender)
|Health limitations or disability||8||8||8|
|Family and personal obligations besides childcare||7||5||10|
|Could not find work||6||6||6|
|Concerned about COVID-19||4||3||5|
|Would lose access to government benefits||3||3||3|
|School or training||2||2||2|
Note: Among adults ages 25 to 54. Respondents could select multiple answers.
The Gig Economy
Individuals who perform gig work or other gig activities may be contributing to the economy in ways not observed through traditional employment measures. Gig activities in this report include selling items at places such as flea markets and garage sales or through online marketplaces, short-term rentals of items or property, and freelance gig work such as ridesharing or other roles where people are paid for specific tasks and generally have flexibility about when and how to work.
Overall, 16 percent of adults performed gig activities over the prior month, matching the share in 2021. This includes 11 percent who sold things, 2 percent who offered short-term rentals, and 6 percent doing other freelance or gig work (with some people performing more than one type of gig activity) (figure 17).
Gig activities were typically not full-time jobs. Twenty-nine percent of adults who performed gig activities (5 percent of all adults) said they spent more than 20 hours doing so over the prior month. Fifty-three percent of gig workers (8 percent of all adults) also had another job working for someone else.22
Consistent with their part-time nature, gig activities were rarely people's main source of income. Only 12 percent of gig workers (2 percent of all adults) said they earned more than half of their income from gigs over the prior month. An even lower 6 percent of gig workers (1 percent of all adults) said that they earned at least 90 percent of their income from gig activities.
18. The question asked in 2019 was different from later years. The 2019 survey asked where people worked in their main jobs most of the time. Return to text
19. Restricting the sample to just those who are working, the likelihood of asking for or receiving a raise is higher. Among those who were working in the month of the survey, 21 percent asked for a raise and 54 percent received one. Return to text
20. The different types of jobs people work in based on their level of education is likely a contributing factor for these differences in levels of autonomy by education. For example, 40 percent of business and professional services workers—most of whom have a bachelor's degree—say that they often or always chose what tasks to work on, while a lower 26 percent of transportation and utilities workers—most of whom have less than a bachelor's degree—say they have this level of control over their work. Return to text
21. Despite differences in question wording, this pattern is consistent with that observed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which reported 20 percent of prime-age adults not working in October 2022, down from 24 percent not working at the time of the survey in 2020, and similar to the percent in October 2019. See U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "(Seas) Employment-Population Ratio—25–54 yrs.," https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS12300060. Return to text
22. Gig questions were asked separately from the standard employment questions. One percent of all adults said that they were both not employed and spending at least 20 hours on gig activities in the prior month. Return to text