Since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown in March of 2020 and the switch to remote work for many people, the percentage of office spaces currently vacant in most metro areas across the United States has risen. However, some metro areas have weathered the storm better than others. According to data from CoStar, out of the 139 metro areas measured, only 25.18% have an office vacancy rate that is currently lower than what they had before the pandemic in the first quarter of 2020. As life is slowly returning to normal and more people commute back to the office, office vacancy rates are starting to decrease, albeit some are returning to lower levels than others.
The five metro areas with the lowest office vacancy rates are as follows:
- Huntington/Ashland, West Virginia-Kentucky-Ohio (1.95%)
- Wilmington, Delaware (2.14%)
- Savannah, Georgia (2.57%)
- Olympia, Washington (2.74%)
- Youngstown/Warren/Boardman, Ohio (2.92%).
The five metro areas with the highest office vacancy rates are as follows:
- Houston, Texas (18.89%)
- Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas (17.57%)
- San Francisco, California (15.45%)
- Washington, D.C. (15.20%)
- Chicago, Illinois (15.08%).
The San Francisco office market was hit the hardest out of the metro areas measured, having its vacancy rate increase to 9.17% from 6.28% in Q1 2020 to 15.45% in Q3 2022. New York City, Green Bay, and Austin were also hit particularly hard, with their vacancy rates increasing 5.74%, 5.09%, and 4.50%, respectively, in that same period.
Surprisingly, some metro areas have even decreased their vacancy rates since the start of the pandemic. Yakima experienced the most occupancy gains since COVID, lowering its vacancy rate by 3.37%. Some other notable metros that have braved the storm that has been the past two years and came out on top were Port St. Lucie, Shreveport, South Bend, and Brownsville. Their vacancy rates decreased by 2.72%, 2.36%, 2.27%, and 2.20%, respectively.
Over the past year, office occupancy gains were highest in Yakima, Washington; Fayetteville, North Carolina; and Bakersfield, California.
Below are all 139 metro areas CoStar measured, ranked in order from lowest vacancy rates to highest vacancy rates.