(The Center Square) – Although the COVID-19 pandemic is largely in the rearview mirror, office workers in downtown Seattle are still coming back at half the pre-pandemic rate.
Downtown Seattle Association has been releasing weekly statistics charts tracking the percent recovered compared to an equivalent week in 2019 since March 1, 2020.
The latest update from June 26 shows office workers are back to work downtown at 38% from the same time period two years prior.
James Sido, the director of media relations at Downtown Seattle Association, said the numbers shouldn’t alarm people at first glance.
“[The chart] indicates we’re around 40 to the high 30s for the percentage of office workers returning compared to 2019 levels at the same time periods,” Sido said in an email to The Center Square. “And at last check, those numbers are higher than LA and San Francisco.”
The three biggest companies located around the downtown Seattle area, Amazon, Microsoft and Google, shifted away from working in their offices in downtown Seattle after the city shut down two years ago,
According to Sido, a good number of Amazon employees are back in their offices in downtown Seattle now.
“Anecdotally, you can tell that a sizable amount of Amazon employees are back in the office just by the size of the lines during the lunch hour at restaurants in and near the HQ,” Sido said.
He went on to explain that the chart identifies an office worker as “having been downtown at least three days per week,” and that “it’s reasonable to believe some of that population could be very well people coming into the office one to two days per week and they’re not yet counted in that office population, so the number is likely higher than 40%.”
The rate of office workers returning to work downtown is below 50%. King County Assessor John Wilson said in May that the parts of Seattle were experiencing double-digit spikes in property valuation in proximity to Amazon, Microsoft and Google-owned buildings.
If the companies are not efficiently utilizing their offices, a shift to different locations could be possible. However, real estate agent Junior Torres doesn’t think so.
“With home prices stabilizing to more normal levels, properties are likely to sit on the market a little longer than they have over the past two years,” Torres said in an email to The Center Square. “We are seeing existing home and condo sales drop month over month and are likely to see a continuation of this. Given the changing market, it is unlikely that we will see a large influx of more residential units in the downtown area.”