Feb 21, 2023 - News

Downtown Des Moines' worker count down 12% from pre-pandemic levels

Illustration of rows of tally marks

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Nearly 9,300 fewer people work in downtown Des Moines than prior to the pandemic, according to Greater DSM Partnership data provided to Axios.

  • 2019's 80,248 downtown workers was down about 12% to just under 71,000 last year.

Why it matters: Retailers, restaurants and hotels in the city's business districts depend on workers to help keep them afloat.

Driving the news: Further recovery this year could be tough after Wells Fargo's announcement last month that it's vacating two of its three downtown DSM buildings.

  • The company is consolidating most of its roughly 12,000 metro employees at the bank's Jordan Creek campus in WDM and isn't disclosing the number of employees leaving downtown.

Details: The Partnership, a group affiliated with metro area chambers of commerce, doesn't have a count of Wells Fargo's downtown employees.

  • Partnership officials instead track downtown worker data more broadly through Esri, a paid geographic information system software,, a spokesperson for the group tells Axios.

What they're saying: Downtown's workforce has recovered well ahead of the national average, Tiffany Tauscheck, CEO of the Partnership, tells Axios.

  • Weekly average occupancy of 10 large metro areas including Chicago and Dallas is around 50%, according to the Kastle Back to Work Barometer, Tauscheck noted.

The big picture: Lots of U.S. metros are facing similar challenges.

  • New York City businesses, for example, are seeing billions less in spending than before the pandemic, Forbes reports.
  • Target, downtown Minneapolis' largest employer, is down about 1,400 employees over the past two years, Axios Twin Cities' Nick Halter reports.
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