CINCINNNATI — Amazon is one of the latest large companies to push back its return to office due to concerns over the delta variant.
Amazon's corporate workers will not come back in person until 2022, and many large companies are keeping their workers home as COVID-19 cases rise.
University of Cincinnati economics professor Michael Jones said that's creating “winners and losers” in the economy.
Workers at home might be saving money if they're spending less on gas, or they're able to relocate to an area with lower cost of living, but service sectors in downtown areas might be suffering as a result. Commercial real estate is experiencing a shift, too. Jones said we're seeing increased demand for industry and warehouse space but seeing more vaccinated people in sectors where companies are deciding to bring less workers back.
Jones said some of these shifts might not be temporary.
“I think if COVID lasted only a few weeks or even a month or two, then we would have gone back to the way things were before,” Jones said. “But we're now entering the second and third year of COVID, and so the norms have become established. People are used to working from home. People are used to having that flexibility.”
Jones said we're not seeing an overall decrease in the amount of spending, we're just seeing a shift in where those dollars are spent. For example, some workers are still buying their lunch, but instead of eating out they're buying it at the grocery store.