The coronavirus pandemic has prompted what seems to be a permanent change in work life practices for at least a quarter of New Jerseyans, according to newly released survey results from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Half of New Jersey workers began teleworking during the pandemic, according to the Madison-based university’s poll of Garden State voters. Even though most New Jersey adults are now vaccinated against COVID-19, only 27% of workers who started working from home say that they’ve started going back to the office full-time and 26% of those now working from home say they don’t think they’ll ever be back in their workplace.
This fundamental change in work habits will have a big effect on transit, government, and budgets in New Jersey, according to Dan Cassino, a government and politics professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University who led the research.
‘Huge’ Ripple Effects
“We all thought the shift to working at home was going to be temporary, but more than a quarter of the people who started working from home are never going back,” Cassino said in a June 25 press statement that outlined the poll’s findings. “The ripple effects of this are huge: this means that we have to rethink funding for mass transit, tax agreements with New York, even demands on the electrical grid.”
New Jersey is not the only state seeing a pandemic-prompted shift in work habits. The Fairleigh Dickinson survey’s findings echo findings of broader research on COVID’s effect on Americans’ work life.
The Pew Research Center released findings in December 2020, saying that prior to COVID, just one in five workers said they teleworked all or most of the time. “Now, 71% of those workers are doing their job from home all or most of the time. And more than half say, given a choice, they would want to keep working from home even after the pandemic,” Pew said in its report.
Additional FDU Poll Findings
FDU reported that at the start of the pandemic in 2020, 67% of men and 52% of women said they had jobs outside the home. Within this group, 51% started working from home part-time (22%) or full-time (29%)
Women were more likely than men to say that they worked from home part-time (22%) or full time (32%). More educated workers were more likely to have been working from home during the pandemic. The poll found that 70% of workers without a college degree kept going to their workplace during the pandemic, compared to just 36% of those with a college degree.
The poll by FDU found that in the more than a year since people started working from home to “bend the curve,” 35% of workers who started working from home say that they’re still working from home full-time. Meanwhile, 27% say they’re going to a workplace full-time and 28% say they combine working at a workplace and working from home.
More New Jersey Women Left Jobs During COVID
FDU said that 9% of poll respondents who were employed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic say they no longer are working. This group of now non-working respondents included more than twice as many women (12%) than men (5%). Workers with a college degree were more likely to say that they’re still working from home (40%) than those without a college degree (22%).
“The pandemic really exacerbated a lot of the inequalities that were already in the system,” Cassino said. “Some people came out fine, but less educated workers were less able to move to remote work. Women were less able to balance remote work with the demands of household labor.”
The poll found that 67% of Democrats say they’re still working from home at least some of the time, compared to 49% of Republicans.
“We talk a lot about splits in views of the pandemic, but it’s not all people just mindlessly reflecting their party,” Cassino said. “The lived experience of the pandemic has been very different for Republicans and Democrats, and that has to be shaping views as well.”
Fewer Transit Riders?
FDU researchers looked at the 26% of workers who said they don’t expect to ever go back into the office and found that many of these workers previously commuted from New Jersey to New York City or Philadelphia. Their absence means that government and businesses in those areas will have to adapt, as will mass transit, which can expect fewer riders than in the past, FDU said in explaining the poll’s findings.
Additional survey findings were:
- 38% of respondents said would rather work from home some of the time, 18% said they would prefer to always work from home, and 31% said they would choose to go into work every day;
- Younger poll respondents who were under age 35 were most likely to want flexibility, with 54% saying they would want to split their time between home and the workplace, compared to 35% of workers aged 35 to 64.
- College-educated workers were less likely to say they want to go to their workplace (28%) compared to those without a college degree (37%).
- 47% of Republican respondents said they’d prefer to go in to work full-time, rather than working from home, compared to just 20% of Democrats. Forty six percent of Democrats would prefer to split their time between telework and going into the workplace, compared to just 24% of Republicans.
‘Trains and Buses Cost the Same’
FDU noted that the 10% of New Jersey workers who say they use mass transit for their commute is a group that includes more college-educated workers than other workers. With these workers being disproportionately likely to work from home going forward, mass transit may get less crowded, but lower ridership complicates funding for the system, which is often based on the number of riders.
“Trains and buses cost the same to run no matter how many people are on them,” Cassino said. “If a lot of commuters are staying home, someone is going to have to start paying more to keep things going.
The survey of 803 registered New Jersey voters was conducted between June 9 and June 16.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 9,774,866 in-state, plus an additional 520,168 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 10,295,034 as of June 29. Of those who have received the vaccine, 4,762,085 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 229,705 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 4,991,790.
Demographically, 53% of those vaccinated are women and 47% men. As for ethnicity, 50% are White, 15% Hispanic, 11% Asian, 7% Black, 9% other and 8% unknown. In regards to the age of those having received the vaccine, 25% are 65 years old or olders, 27% are between the ages of 50-64, 29% are between the ages of 30-49, and 19% are between the ages of 12-29.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,086,661 doses (532,353 fully vaccinated), Essex 816,245 doses (393,760), Hudson 726,469 doses (345,778), Morris 621,595 doses (302,838), Passaic 506,541 doses (244,520), Sussex 145,305 doses (71,715), and Warren 93,649 doses (45,943).
As of June 29, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 892,876 with 265 total new PCR cases reported. There were 75 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 130,324. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,023,200.
As for those that have passed, the state reported six new deaths, bringing that total to 23,746. The state listed probable deaths at 2,698, bringing the overall total to 26,444. State officials noted two deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on June 29, Bergen had a total of 29 new confirmed cases and 14 new probable case, Essex 36 new cases and six new probable cases, Hudson nine new cases and four new probable cases, Morris eight new cases and four new probable cases, Passaic 21 new cases and one new probable case, Sussex two new cases and five new probable cases, and Warren had four new case and no new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,721, followed by Bergen at 2,587, Hudson with 2,085, Passaic at 1,735, Morris at 978, Sussex at 239, and Warren County at 211.
In regards to probable deaths reported June 23, Essex has 302, Bergen has 299, Morris has 261, Hudson has 216, Passaic has 200, Sussex has 68 and Warren has 26.
As for the rate of transmission reported June 29, it remained unchanged from the day before at 0.93. The daily rate of infections from those tested June 24 was 1.0%; by region, the rate was 0.9% in the North, 1.3% in the Central region and 0.9% in the South.
Officials reported 293 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 157 in the North, 71 in the Central and 65 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 52 are in intensive care units and 29 on ventilators. A total of 35 patients were discharged.
Officials have continually cited transmission rate, hospitalizations, intensive care units, ventilators and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 90,191, followed by Middlesex at 85,146, Essex at 84,911, Hudson at 79,048, Monmouth at 67,883, Ocean at 66,026, Passaic at 65,949, Union at 60,647, Camden at 49,163, Morris at 42,060, Burlington at 38,383, Mercer at 31,757, Gloucester at 26,671, Atlantic at 25,003, Somerset at 24,405, Cumberland at 14,939, Sussex at 11,767, Warren at 9,001, Hunterdon at 8,982, Salem at 5,575, and Cape May at 4,656.
In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 14,764, followed by Union at 11,113, Ocean at 10,417, Essex at 9,594, Hudson at 9,331, Morris at 8,326, Monmouth at 8,183, Middlesex at 7,557, Passaic at 7,448, Camden at 6,762, Atlantic at 6,654, Burlington at 6,009, Somerset at 5,835, Cape May at 4,633, Gloucester at 4,047, Mercer at 2,436, Sussex at 2,349, Cumberland at 2,290, Warren at 1,033, Hunterdon at 906, and Salem 542.
Another 721 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 25 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 595 of the cases, broken down between 224 residents and 371 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,482 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,847 residents and 22,255 staff, for a total of 55,102.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,062 on June 29. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,891 residents deaths and 144 staff deaths.