The San Francisco Downtown has historically been a job center for the entire Bay Area. It attracts hundreds of thousands of workers from the region who, in turn, support thousands of businesses. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 470,000 people commuted in to San Francisco from outside of San Francisco each day. This generated a great deal of economic activity for Downtown and throughout the city.
During the pandemic, most office workers began working from home. This reduced economic activity in our office district and throughout the city because fewer people came into San Francisco each day. It placed severe stress on small businesses located in the economic core and their employees.
This metric tracks the average number of office workers entering their work building each week compared to before the pandemic. The dashboard shows data for the San Francisco metropolitan area and four peer metropolitan areas for comparison.
Why do we track this metric?
Tracking office attendance helps the City understand how much foot traffic is returning to our Downtown office core. It helps local businesses predict their customer base. It helps them make important operating and staffing decisions. It may help those in real estate understand the market for both office and ground floor space.
We also track office attendance in peer cities. The comparison tells us what trends are common across the nation, and what might be unique to San Francisco. Differences might also help us analyze the impact of different recovery policies.
How do we interpret this metric?
At the start of the pandemic, San Francisco office attendance dropped to less than 10% of what it was. Office attendance began slowly increasing in the summer of 2021. Overall attendance increased throughout 2022, despite several temporary dips.
When the pandemic began in 2020, there were significant differences in office attendance between cities. Over the next two years, attendance rates slowly became more similar across cities. Austin, Texas showed a consistently higher attendance rate than most peer cities, but in early 2023, was still experiencing a significant decrease from pre-pandemic attendance.