Miami Office Occupancy Leveling Out at Two-Thirds of Pre-COVID Levels

New York is not far behind its Florida rival, while San Francisco continues to lag

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The new normal in office occupancy is not quite settled yet — but Miami is nearing something resembling consistency. 

Based on foot traffic to 50 office buildings in Miami’s commercial hub, weekly office occupancy has mostly fluctuated between 25 to 40 percent below pre-pandemic levels, averaging out to a fairly regular 35 percent since the start of 2022, according to new data from analytics firm Placer.ai reviewed by Commercial Observer.

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Over the pandemic, Miami had retained more of its regular office population than other metropolitan areas, but New York City is quickly catching up and has seen a marked increase since the start of the year. In fact, over September, the two rivals clocked almost exactly the same rates: down  24.6 percent from 2019 levels for Miami, and down 24.2 percent for New York. 

However, there are two caveats to that slight eclipse. First, New York has since struggled to maintain its post-Labor Day resurgence, due in some part to enduring work-from-home trends as well as anxiety about crime, particularly on public transit. (Miami’s office workers are not as reliant on or used to public transit.) Second, in the week of Hurricane Ian, Miami’s office occupancy was 59 percent below 2019 levels — a complete outlier in terms of average foot traffic.

Regardless, both cities in September bested the national average of 29.5 percent below 2019 levels.

Elsewhere, the recovery is less robust. San Francisco continues to be the worst-performing office market, still at 60 percent below the benchmark, while Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston were all at a deficit of more than 40 percent. The nation’s capital and Atlanta were both around 35 percent in the red, while Boston was in line with the national average. 

When it comes to trajectory, the cities that improved the most since the start of 2022 were the ones hit hardest over the pandemic: New York, Boston and Washington D.C., followed closely by Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Secondary cities that saw pandemic influx — like Denver, Miami and Atlanta — also improved from the start of 2022, but not as steeply, and could be leveling off. 

The data was provided by Placer.ai and is based on foot traffic to a select group of office buildings in each respective city between Monday and Friday through the week of Oct. 17.

Chava Gourarie can be reached at cgourarie@commercialobserver.com.