New numbers from Gallup show that remote work is becoming more common. Workers today are more likely to spend at least part of their time working apart from their colleagues. And the share of time that these workers are spending out of the office is getting larger.

The Gallup numbers are the latest evidence of a trend that’s been visible in Census data for a number of years now. About 4.6 percent of workers, 6.8 million of them, worked at home in 2015, the latest year for which the Census has data. That’s a nearly 5 percent increase over 2014.

Remote work is the bright spot in an otherwise gloomy landscape for commuters. According to the Census, the typical American commute has been getting longer each year since 2010.

The Census’s 2015 American Community Survey data, released last fall, show that the average American commute crept up to 26.4 minutes in 2015, or about 24 seconds longer than the previous year. Multiply it all out – 24 seconds per commute, twice a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year – and in 2015 the typical American could expect to spend about three hours and twenty minutes longer getting to and from work than in 2014.

The census data show the longest commutes are also the fastest growing. The total 16-and-over workforce – from which these numbers are derived – grew by roughly 1.7 percent from 2014 to 2015 (148.3 million workers). But the number of workers with 45-minute commutes grew even faster (3.5 percent). The number with hourlong commutes grew even faster than that (5.1 percent).

And workers with extreme commutes – 90 minutes or more – grew by the fastest rate of all (8 percent). At the other end of the spectrum, the number of workers with commutes under 10 minutes actually shrank.

There are a number of factors driving this trend – Americans’ decades-long shift toward the suburbs, among them. A Brookings report found that, even as jobs followed them toward the edges of metropolitan areas, the sprawl of suburban and exurban areas led to longer commutes.

Comments are not available on this story.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.