One Year In: Data Usage Surged During COVID-19 Pandemic
Americans spent a lot of time at home last year, as offices closed, schools shut down, and cities went into full-blown lockdown in an effort to flatten the curve.
Because of this, in-home data consumption in the U.S. surged. To provide some perspective, this graphic shows the average monthly data usage in 2020 compared to 2019.
Percent Change by Month
At the start of 2020, data consumption was up 16% compared to 2019, driven largely by streaming boxes and smart TVs.
But by March (when the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic) usage had spiked, with a 28% increase compared to the year prior.
|Month (2020)||YoY Change|
Interestingly, March’s increase was largely driven by phones (43%), smart TVs (41%), and streaming boxes (36%), while PC/Mac consumption experienced a low increase in comparison (9%).
However, more Americans started using their PC/Macs from home in April, presumably because of the shift to remote work. From spring onward, desktop usage growth hovered at around 20-25%. And by December, PC/Mac use had grown 34% compared to the year prior.
Usage by Device
It’s worth noting that, while overall data consumption increased in 2020, people’s consumption habits didn’t change all that much.
|Device||Share of Use (2019)||Share of Use (2020)||YoY change|
In fact, when it came to the share of use across devices, the only ones to see any change were smart TVs and gaming consoles.
At least some things remained relatively normal in 2020.
» Want to learn more? Check out our COVID-19 information hub to help put the past year into perspective
Charting the Continued Rise of Remote Jobs
Remote job postings are up nearly across the board, but a few key industries are have seen a significant shift over the last year.
Charting the Continued Rise of Remote Jobs
When the pandemic first took hold in 2020, and many workplaces around the world closed their doors, a grand experiment in work-from-home began.
Today, well over a year after the first lockdown measures were put in place, there are still lingering questions about whether remote work would now become a commonplace option, or whether things would generally return to the status quo in offices around the world.
New data from LinkedIn’s Workforce Report shows that remote work may be here to stay, and could even become the norm in a few key industries.
Broadly speaking, 12% of all Canadian paid job postings on LinkedIn offered remote work in September 2021. Prior to the pandemic, that number sat at just 1.3%.
While this data was specific to Canada, the country’s similarity to the U.S. means that these trends are likely being seen across the border as well.
Which Industries are Embracing Remote Work?
The nature of work can vary broadly by job type—for example, mining is tough to do from one’s living room sofa—so remote jobs were not distributed equally across industries.
Here are the numbers on job postings that were geared towards remote work:
|Industry||% Remote (Sept 2020)||% Remote (Sept 2021)||Change (p.p.)|
|Software & IT Services||12.5%||30.0%||17.5|
|Media & Communications||12.5%||21.3%||8.8|
|Wellness & Fitness||3.3%||21.2%||17.9|
|Hardware & Networking||2.2%||12.9%||10.7|
|Recreation & Travel||0.2%||3.7%||3.5|
|Energy & Mining||1.0%||2.7%||1.7|
Tech and healthcare industries are showing big shifts towards remote work, with the latter being influenced by a number of tech-driven changes, including telemedicine.
Physical distancing measures forced some industries to pivot quickly. Whether virtual fitness and wellness options (e.g. Peloton and Headspace) would remain popular beyond the pandemic was a big question mark, but this jobs data seems to indicate continued digital growth in these industries.
What the Future Holds
Since COVID-19 outbreaks are still underway, the true test for this trend will be whether these numbers hold up a year or two from now. When offices and gyms are reliably open again, will companies dial back the work-from-home options?
Today, hybrid solutions are proving popular amidst worries that fully distributed teams suffer from lower levels of collaboration and communication between colleagues, and that innovation could be stifled by lack of in-person collaboration.
Of course, employees themselves are reporting being more productive and happy at home, with 98% of people wanting the option to work remotely for the rest of their careers.
It’s clear that the culture of work is undergoing an evolution today, and companies and employees will continue to seek the perfect balance of productivity and happiness.
Print Has Prevailed: The Staying Power of Physical Books
When e-books hit the mainstream in the early 2000s, many predicted they’d eventually make print books obsolete. So far, that prediction has not come true.
The Staying Power of Print Books
E-books are certainly not a new phenomenon. In fact, they’ve been around longer than the internet.
Yet, while the emergence of e-books dates back to the early 1970s, they didn’t hit the mainstream until the 2000s, when big companies began launching their own e-book readers, and digital libraries started to become more accessible to the public.
Around this time, sales for e-books started to soar, and by 2013, e-book sales made up 20% of all books sales in America. Many wondered if this was the end for print books.
But fast forward to 2021, and e-books haven’t made print books obsolete. At least, not yet.
E-book versus Print Book Purchases
A recent poll found that people still favor print books over e-books, at least when it comes to their purchasing behavior.
Of the 10 countries included in the survey, an estimated 42% of people had purchased at least one print book in 2020, while only 15.5% had bought an e-book that same year.
Here’s a look at all 10 countries, and the estimated share of their population who bought physical versus e-books in 2020:
|🇺🇸 United States||44.5%||22.7%|
|🇬🇧 United Kingdom||48.7%||20.0%|
|🇰🇷 South Korea||34.6%||16.8%|
China had the highest portion of e-book lovers—an estimated 24.4% of its population purchased an e-book in 2020, which is more than 8 percentage points higher than the average across the whole list.
On the other end of the spectrum, e-books are least popular in India, where an estimated 5.6% of the country’s population purchased an e-book in 2020. Keep in mind, the country has a lower percentage of book purchasers in general.
Why Print Has Prevailed
Why are print books still more popular than e-books? There are many theories. One study suggests that readers retain information better from a print book versus an e-book, while other consumer surveys found that e-books haven’t yet managed to fully simulate the tactile experience of a print book.
However, while e-books might not eradicate print books entirely, the market for digital books is expected to grow in the near future. By 2025, global revenue from e-books could reach $18.4 billion, with 1.2 billion users across the globe.
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