Downtown remains the region’s center of employment, with more than 340,000 jobs based out of the center city. As office-based employees shifted to remote options during the pandemic, downtown workers have been slower to return, hovering around 40% of pre-pandemic levels throughout 2022. However, three years since the official public health proclamations, workers are steadily starting to return downtown, with a promising start to 2023. February 2023 saw the highest level of daily worker foot traffic since the start of the pandemic, increasing to 47% compared to February 2020. The value of downtown office property continues to remain high.
- Finishing Strong: Workers continue to return to downtown-based jobs in increasing numbers. December 2022 was the highest monthly average in 2022 relative to the same month in 2019.
- Signs of Progress: In raw numbers of total worker foot traffic, February 2023 averaged the highest daily counts since March 2020.
- Vacancy Signs: The downtown office sector remains under pressure. In 2022, vacancy rates rose to 14% — just slightly below the previous high mark in 2009.
- Peer Office: Among peers, Seattle’s office vacancy rate was relatively positive, especially compared to several West Coast peer cities, including San Francisco (22%) and Portland (20%).
- Valuable Real Estate: Among peer downtowns in 2022, Seattle ranked third in office-market sale price per square foot, trailing only San Francisco and Boston.
For the most current downtown return-to-office figures, visit the Economic Recovery page.