Downtown Seattle office workers are back in offices at less than half the pre-COVID rate | Washington

ByShannon J. Cortes

Jul 7, 2022

(The Center Square) — Although the COVID-19 pandemic is largely in the rearview mirror, office workers in downtown Seattle are still returning at half the pre-pandemic rate.

The Downtown Seattle Association publishes weekly statistics tables showing the percentage of recovery compared to an equivalent week in 2019 since March 1, 2020.

The latest update from June 26 shows that office workers are back to work downtown at 38% compared to the same period two years ago.

James Sido, director of media relations at the Downtown Seattle Association, said the numbers shouldn’t alarm people at first glance.

“[The chart] indicates that we are around 40 to 30 for the percentage of office workers returning from 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 Fransisco.”

The three largest companies located in downtown Seattle, Amazon, Microsoft and Google, stopped working in their downtown Seattle offices after the city closed two years ago,

According to Sido, many Amazon employees are now back in their downtown Seattle offices.

“Anecdotally, you can say that a significant number of Amazon employees are back in the office just to the size of lunch hour queues at restaurants inside and close to headquarters,” Sido said.

He went on to explain that the chart identifies an office worker as “having been downtown at least three days a week” and that “it is reasonable to believe that some of this population could very well be people coming into the office one to two days a week and they’re not yet counted in that office population, so the number is probably over 40 percent.”

The rate of office workers returning to work downtown is less than 50%. King County assessor John Wilson said in May that parts of Seattle experiencing double-digit spikes in property assessments were near buildings owned by Amazon, Microsoft and Google.

If companies are not using their offices efficiently, a move to other locations may be possible. However, realtor Junior Torres doesn’t think so.

“With home prices stabilizing at more normal levels, properties should stay on the market a bit longer than they have over the past couple of years,” Torres said in an email to The Center Square. “We are seeing sales of existing homes and condos falling month over month and that will likely continue. additional residential units in the city center.”