May 8, 2023 - Economy

NY's return to office has stalled out since peak

Data: REBNY; Chart: Axios Visuals

More people went to the office in Manhattan in the first three months of 2023, compared to the same time last year, per a report out Monday.

  • But there are signs that these office visitation rates are stalling, according to the data from the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY).

What's happening: REBNY uses location analytics — using randomized cellphone data tracked by analytics firm Placer.ai — to assess how many visits were made to 250 office buildings across midtown Manhattan, midtown south and downtown.

  • Visitation rates were at 61% of their pre-pandemic baselines in Q1 2023 — that's a ten point increase from Q1 2022.
  • But it's down slightly from a peak of 65% in the third quarter of last year.

Big picture: The office market is lagging behind other sectors of New York City's economy in terms of a bounce-back from the pandemic (the emergency phase is officially over now, per the WHO).

  • That's a big headwind for the city's tax coffers and overall economic health: Property taxes on office buildings makes up about 20% of the city's overall property tax collections.
  • "If you walk around on the streets there's tons of tourists and residents walking around and doing things," said Keith DeCoster, director of market data and policy for REBNY. "But in terms of return to office it's still roughly 40% below where it was, this time in 2019."
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