By Jason Boone
Bend has been referred to by more than one person as a “BYOJ” town: Bring your own job.
The sentiment behind that not-all-too-positive observation of the city’s economy is that there isn’t a critical mass of employers to gainfully employ the number of educated, qualified, productive people who would like to live here. Instead, the BYOJ philosophy holds, people who move here must already be set up to allow them to make a living — such as by operating their own business, offering a scarce, in-demand service or working in a telecommuting position.
Whatever the reality of the BYOJ situation, we can state with some certainty that the number of telecommuters in Bend is on the rise. And from there we can deduce that this development makes the probability of another implosion of the local housing market, a repeat of the great recession bust, less likely.
First, the data: The 2015 American Community Survey of the Census Bureau showed that more than one in 11 workers (9.3 percent) in the Bend-Redmond area work from home, as The Bulletin newspaper noted this month. That’s the highest rate of at-home workers in Oregon, overtaking Medford, which led Oregon at 8.4 percent in the 2010 survey and was second nationally, behind Boulder, Colorado.
The percentage of people working from home in Deschutes County in 2015 was 28 percent greater than in 2013, The Bulletin reported. The county’s workforce as a whole increased 7 percent over that span. It seems quite a few people brought their own jobs.
Now, conclusions: Bend is no longer reliant on construction and real estate-related trades and businesses — as it was before the great recession — to employ a significant portion of its workforce. The city now boasts a nontrivial percentage of professionals who receive paychecks from Google, Disney, Microsoft and other nonlocal businesses.
What happens in Bend, economically speaking, could very well stay in Bend. A downturn of the economy here or a lag in a certain sector — be it health care or education or home-building — isn’t likely to have a direct impact on companies with home-based employees working in Bend.
These telecommuters are partly insulated from the ups and downs of the local economy, making their position in the housing market more secure. The diversification that Bend’s abundant home-based workforce adds to the local economy provides a layer of support to the local real estate environment.
There’s no guarantee we won’t experience another period from 2007 to 2009, but the surge in home-based employees makes it less likely.
The data from the American Community Survey and reported by The Bulletin is good to keep in mind this winter, when we can expect median sales prices to slip and overall real estate activity to undergo a seasonal slowdown. I have more than 13 years of experience in the Bend real estate market, so I’ve lived through the ups and downs. My background and knowledge will help you get the best deal — whether you’re buying or thinking about selling a home in Bend. To learn more about how I can assist you in your real estate transaction, contact me at (541) 383-1426, or visit Bend Property Search to connect with me through my website.