Workers in big city business districts are closing out the summer back home or a…
Workers in big city business districts are closing out the summer back home or at other remote locations, as momentum to return to the office in the spring and early summer mostly petered out in August.
Property owners only months ago anticipated that office towers would fill up again after Labor Day, thanks to rising vaccination rates and falling infection rates. But the spread of the Delta variant and rising Covid-19 case numbers upended that calculation. As the summer wore on, most office desks stayed largely vacant, or became even emptier.
Offices in 10 major U.S. cities were just 33.1% occupied in the week ending Aug. 25, according to Kastle Systems, an access-control company that tracks how many people swipe into buildings. That figure is a slight increase over the prior week but down from a 34.8% peak in late July.
In New York and San Francisco, the two worst markets among the 10 major metros tracked by Kastle, occupancy rates were a mere 22.3% and 19.7%, respectively. Both were slightly off their July highs.
The decreases are partly seasonal. Some workers go on vacation or retreat to country houses in August. But the low numbers also reflect concerns that new Covid-19 variants could put people at risk of infection in the workplace. A number of major companies have moved their return date back to October or later.
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