Ghost Town: Just 8% of Employees in NYC Are Back in Their Offices

TOPSHOT - A nearly empty Times Square is seen on March 23, 2020 in New York City. - Wall Street fell early March 23, 2020 as Congress wrangled over a massive stimulus package while the Federal Reserve unveiled new emergency programs to boost the economy including with unlimited bond buying. …
Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Fewer employees are returning to their offices in New York City than was expected earlier this year, according to a survey of the city’s largest employers.

Just eight percent of employees have returned to the office as of mid-August, a survey by The Partnership for New York City found. That is 20 percent below the 10 percent projections made in late May.

Employers are also less certain about when they will expect workers to return. Only 26 percent expect employees back by the end of the year, down one-third from earlier forecasts. Just 54 percent expect workers to return by July 2021.

Not surprisingly, the real estate agency has been most aggressive about returning to work. Over half of real estate employees have already returned and 94 percent are expected to return by next July. The real estate business has been put under great strain by the emptying of office buildings and tenants delaying rent payments or attempting to renegotiate leases.

Tech employers expect 74 percent of employees to return to the office by July 2021, somewhat contradicting expectations that this sector would embrace remote working. Finance and insurance employers expect 55 percent to return and consulting firms expect 50 percent.

Accounting, Media and Entertainment, Sports and Hospitality employers have much lower rates of return, the Partnership for New York City said.

This could put further downward pressure on New York City residential real estate prices, both for home sales and rents, while increasing demand for homes outside of the city. With many employees not expected to return for over a year, it is likely that they will seek out living arrangements less keyed around short commutes and offering more space for living and working at home.

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