New York City Economic Tracker: September 4, 2023
Office Attendance in New York Lags Peer Cities
According to an article in Kastle Systems’ Back-to-Work Barometer, return-to-office rates in New York City are significantly lower than in other peer metros. In August, office attendance averaged just 42.6%, the lowest among the five biggest U.S. cities. Houston had the highest return rate at 60%, followed by Dallas at 53.6% and Chicago at 51.2%. Los Angeles, at 48%, was the only other major city with attendance rates below 50%. The average for the 10 biggest U.S. cities was 47.5%, likely influenced by New York’s low attendance.
In the last week of August, just before Labor Day weekend, office attendance in New York City dropped to a mere 38.2%, the second-lowest among the 10 cities tracked by Kastle Systems, with only San Jose having a lower attendance rate at 36.1%. This persistently low office attendance has raised concerns among public officials, including Mayor Eric Adams, who has been urging employers to bring their workers back to the office since last year.
Hybrid and Remote Work Has Become Permanent
The pandemic has caused a significant shift in how Americans work, with hybrid and remote work becoming a permanent part of the labor market. In New York City, 35.5% of the average workweek is spent working remotely, surpassing the 10-city average tracked by Kastle Systems. This is also 8 percentage points higher than the average for cities outside of the ten biggest. Only in Los Angeles do workers spend a greater share of the week working from home, at 36.2%. On the other hand, Chicago has the lowest work-from-home rate among the five biggest metros, averaging 30.8%.
It is likely that working from home will continue to be a prevalent practice, unless there is a shift in company policies that allow employees to telework full-time. Teleworking, which involves working from a third location such as a coffee shop or library, is distinct from working from home or the office.
The New York City Economic Tracker reveals that office attendance in the city continues to lag behind other major U.S. cities. The rise of hybrid and remote work has become a permanent fixture in the labor market, with New York City having the highest percentage of remote work. Public officials, including Mayor Eric Adams, are concerned about the persistently low office attendance and have been urging employers to bring their workers back to the office. It remains to be seen how these trends will shape the future of work in New York City.