Mar 30, 2022 - Business

Dallas office occupancy rates are above national average

Data: Kastle Systems; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Kastle Systems; Chart: Axios Visuals

Dallas’ office occupancy levels are at 46.6%, seven percentage points above the national average. But that still means more than half of the office space is unoccupied.

Why it matters: If this keeps up, it's a game-changing shift for the economics of Dallas and cities nationwide.

  • The COVID-provoked disruption could be comparable to the exodus of manufacturing from cities in the late 20th century, University of Toronto professor Richard Florida told the Wall Street Journal.

Between the lines: It's a significant increase compared to last year, when levels dipped during a surge in COVID-19 cases driven in part by the Delta variant.

  • But it's still nowhere near a return to pre-pandemic levels in February 2020, before the shutdowns and the rise of remote work.
  • Dallas’ city center only holds 2% of the region’s jobs, according to an INRIX research report on traffic congestion.

The big picture: The threat of COVID-19 may fade but the days of most office workers going to a physical space for five-day, 40 hour weeks are over, writes Axios' Erica Pandey.

  • 17% of workers say they're teleworking because they moved away, per a Pew study published last month.
  • Workers want more flexibility. Half of workers said they'd rather quit than return to work full-time, according to a recent survey from Robert Half, a global human resource consulting firm.

What to watch: The office space industry in Dallas is still playing catch-up.

  • Demand for office space here lags behind a lot of the top 12 U.S. office markets, compared to pre-pandemic levels.

The bottom line: An emptied-out downtown has a ripple effect on restaurants, music clubs, coffee shops and other lifeblood businesses.


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