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Those hoping to earn a six-figure salary will now find more opportunities that are fully remote than in any individual city in North America.

According to a recent study conducted by Ladders Inc., a New York-based online job search platform that only lists jobs with annual salaries of $100,000 or more, there are now more than 80,000 open remote job opportunities that offer six-figure salaries.

By comparison, there are fewer than 69,000 open roles that offer US$100,000 or more in San Francisco, and fewer than 65,000 in New York. Toronto, the only Canadian city that made the top-15 list for North America, only has about 13,600 open roles that offer a six-figure salary (in Canadian dollars).

“Remote has become the largest ‘city’ for $100,000-plus jobs in the U.S. and Canada postpandemic, which is a fascinating insight into the changing world of work that we’re all experiencing,” Ladders chief executive officer Marc Cenedella says. “There are more high-paying jobs available for remote workers than there are in New York City or Toronto or Montreal or San Francisco, and I think that’s a harbinger of the future. This is not a fad that’s going to go away – it’s the beginning of a new way of working in the coming decades.”

This marks the first time the number of fully remote six-figure job opportunities exceeded those available in any North American city, according to Mr. Cenedella, in the latest example of how the pandemic has permanently changed the nature of work.

According to a recent study conduct by the Business Development Bank of Canada, 74 per cent of small and medium-sized businesses will allow their staff to work remotely moving forward. The study also found 55 per cent of employees prefer to continue working remotely as much or more than they do currently.

Mr. Cenedella says the increase in high-paying remote work opportunities represents a “fundamental societal change,” which he likens to the invention of the automobile more than a century ago.

“We couldn’t predict after World War Two that the mass production of automobiles and everyone having an automobile was going to turn into suburbs and supermarkets – you can’t quite predict those effects,” he says.

One potential effect is greater pay equity and access to opportunity in less populous regions. According to a recent study conducted by human-resources consulting firm Robert Half Canada, workers in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary earn an additional 3 per cent or more compared with national averages, while those based in Montreal earn 2 per cent more. Those based in Quebec City and Regina, however, earn an average of 4 per cent less for the same work.

Now that high earners can work remotely, however, Mr. Cenedella says pay rates will begin to balance out across the country. “We’re already seeing a rampant increase in software engineer pay – not across the board, but software engineer pay in secondary and tertiary cities, closing the [compensation] gap with top-tier cities,” he says.

Furthermore, with more remote work opportunities available to Canadians through American-based employers, Mr. Cenedella anticipates greater pay consistency across national borders as well.

“The market for Canadian talent has always been influenced by the United States, but I think we’re really on the cusp of seeing the employment market becoming continental,” he says. “There are no barriers, and this supranational labour market is going to be hugely positive for Canada.”

Last year, however, some employers indicated they would take local cost of living into consideration when determining pay for remote workers. In 2020, a number of major tech companies – including Facebook, Twitter and software maker VMware – announced they would cut pay for staff who left Silicon Valley. Given today’s highly competitive hiring landscape, however, Mr. Cenedella doubts this trend will last, citing the increase in six-figure remote jobs as an early indication.

“That might last for a couple quarters or a couple years, but ultimately if the output is valuable, the pay will follow,” he says. “It’s simply not going to be possible for companies to say, ‘I’ll pay somebody in Nova Scotia a different amount for the same work that someone in Montreal does,’ and we are already starting to see that.”

The sudden switch to remote work has dramatically reshaped the employment landscape, and while the full effects of that transition are not yet known, what’s certain is these trends won’t revert back to prepandemic norms.

If you were to ask corporate leaders in 2019 what would happen if companies had to transition to remote work, they would have said it wasn’t really feasible, Mr. Cenedella says, adding, “I think corporate leaders are surprised not only in how well it went – that it wasn’t a disaster, but that there were a lot of upsides to it, too.”

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