U.S. office occupancy in big cities tops 40% - Kastle Systems

CHICAGO, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Office occupancy in major U.S. urban areas topped 40% after Thanksgiving, a post-pandemic high, according to building security provider Kastle Systems.

The company reported this week that its back-to-work barometer based on keycard, fob, and building access data shows a 10-city average occupancy in buildings and businesses it secures rose to 40.6% after the Thanksgiving holiday, the highest level since COVID-19 forced millions to work remotely from home starting in March 2020.

highest since Pandemic

Austin, Texas, had the highest metropolitan area occupancy at 59.3%, with New York at 37%, Chicago at 35.2%, and Los Angeles at 36.3%.

If the upward trend in the return of U.S. workers after more than a year and a half working from home holds up in coming weeks, it could result in a stronger December employment report, Nicholas Colas, co-founder of DataTrek Research, said on Wednesday.

In a daily briefing, Colas pointed to a "surprising" surge in office occupancy in the latest week despite news of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus and given that occupancy was expected to remain soft throughout the holiday period.

Colas said urban unemployment was "a significant issue" for the labor market during the pandemic.

"More office workers means more demand for ancillary services in large metro areas, and better employment trends as a result," he wrote.

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Reporting By Karen Pierog; Editing by Alden Bentley and Sonya Hepinstall

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