FRBSF Economic Letters

Economic analysis for a general audience

Augustus Kmetz, John Mondragon, and Johannes Wieland


The COVID-19 pandemic reshaped the way households work. Nearly a third of employees still worked from home part time or full time as of August 2022. This has significantly increased housing demand and is a key factor explaining why U.S. house prices grew 24% between November 2019 and November 2021. Analysis shows that the shift to remote work may account for more than half of overall house price increases and similar increases in rents. This fundamental evolution in work-related housing demand may be important for future house prices.

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Analysis of current economic developments and the outlook

Western Economic Developments

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Working Papers

The latest in economic research

John Fernald and Huiyu Li

The U.S. economy came into the pandemic, and looks likely to leave it, on a slow-growth path. The near- term level of potential output has fallen because of shortfalls in labor that should reverse over time. Labor productivity, to a surprising degree, has followed an accelerated version of its Great Recession path with initially strong growth followed by weak growth. But, as of mid-2022, it appears that the overall level of labor and total factor productivity are only modestly affected. The sign of the effect depends on whether we use the strong income-side measures of pandemic output growth or the much weaker expenditure-side measures. There is considerable heterogeneity across industries. We can explain some but not all of the heterogeneity through industry differences in cyclical utilization and off-the-clock hours worked. After accounting for these factors, industries where it is easy to work from home have grown somewhat faster than they did pre-pandemic. In contrast, industries where it is hard to work from home have performed extremely poorly.

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