Office occupancy in New York City takes yet another dip
New York City's return-to-office rate decreased for the fifth straight week amid the peak summer vacation season and a rise in COVID-19 activity across the region.
Office occupancy in the city clocked in at just 40.6% for the week ending Aug. 23. That's the lowest it has been since the Fourth of July and sits just above the week surrounding New Year's.
That's according to data from the real estate technology firm Kastle Systems, which tracks badge swipes at commercial office buildings in 10 major U.S. cities.
The August dip is consistent with data from previous years and is likely the product of the busy travel season. If last year's numbers are any indicator, the city can expect in-office occupancy to bounce back after Labor Day.
However, a recent increase in COVID-19 activity across New York City could push back that return. The seven-day average for new cases reported to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has more than doubled in recent weeks. Deaths remain low — about one each day — but hospitalizations are up, with roughly 60 patients admitted each day.
The uptick in cases is likely a long way off from prompting any significant changes to remote-work policies, but some high-risk individuals may be a bit more reluctant to work in person than in previous months.
Cities across the country, on the other hand, saw office occupancies stabilize and even increase last week.
New York's numbers are a far cry from Houston, the country's fourth-largest city, where in-person activity is at 60.9% of pre-pandemic levels. New York's rate is also slightly below Los Angeles and Chicago, where 46.2% and 50.6% of employees, respectively, are back in the office.
Across the cities that Kastle surveys, Tuesday is the most popular in-office day. Friday, unsurprisingly, is the least popular.
The city reached 50% of its pre-pandemic in-office levels for the first time in early June. It remained within a few percentage points of that threshold until the Fourth of July holiday, which prompted a steep dip in daily badge swipes. Now, the city has yet to bounce back above the 50% mark, likely due to the busy summer vacation season.
The Kastle Systems data represents commercial office buildings equipped with Kastle Systems security technology in 10 major U.S. cities and does not reflect a national average of the entire U.S. workforce. The 10 cities included are Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Jose and Washington.