Gregory Heym is Chief Economist at Brown Harris Stevens. His weekly series, The Line, covers new developments to the economy, including trends and forecasts. Read on for the latest report and subscribe here to receive The Line in your inbox.
More Manhattan Workers are Coming Back to their Offices
The Partnership for New York City released their latest return to office report, which contains some good news and some not-so-good news.
Based on a survey conducted between January 5 and January 28, the Partnership found that, on an average workday, 52% of Manhattan office workers are physically at their workplace. This is the first time since they began these surveys the number has been over 50%, which is pretty good news.
However, the last survey before this one was in September 2022, when thenumber was 49%, so not much progress has been made over thepast several months—not-so-good news.
Here are some of the other key findings of the report:
Only 9% of employees are in theoffice five days a week, unchanged from September.
10% of workers are fully remote, down from 16% in September.
82% of employers surveyed plan to use a hybrid office schedule in 2023.
Real estate firms have 80% of their workers in the office daily, by far the highest percentage of any industry. Yet another reason why real estate is the coolest industry to work in!
For the first time, the Partnership asked employers to evaluate theimpact of remote work on certain aspects of their company. Their answers are below:
So, it seems that while remote work doesn’t reduce profitability that much, it does hurt employee development and company culture. When asked the primary reason why employees resist coming into the office, 57% said it was the flexibility remote worked offered, while just 3% said it was the fear of COVID-19 or another illness.
I’ve said many times in this column how important it is for the city’s economy and transit system to have these workers back full time. It’s nice the number has finally surpassed 50%, but most thought it would be much higher by now.
Just What We Need, Another Inflation Statistic
Inflation remains the biggest issue facing the economy today, so we shouldn’t be surprised people are coming up with new ways to measure it. That said, do we really need more ways to deliver bad news? We are already bombarded each month with reports on CPI, PPI, ECI, and the Fed’s favorite—PCE. We then have the "headline" number and the "core" value, just to make it a bit more complicated. Well, say hello to "supercore inflation," the new kid on the block. You may be aware the core CPI number does not include food and energy prices, as they can be very volatile. Supercore inflation also eliminates food and energy, but adds housing to its exclusion list. To many economists, these three categories have to be removed because their prices were most distorted by the pandemic. Many of you esteemed readers are probably thinking, "That’s nice, but we all need a place to live, food, and gas in our cars, don’t we?" To paraphrase a line from Erin Brockovich, "All you economists do is complicate situations that aren’t complicated." No matter how you measure inflation, it is simply too high. And as the Talking Heads so aptly put it, "Say something once, why say it again?" Enough pop culture references; the bottom line is economists say looking at supercore inflation will help them fight inflation. Maybe they’re right, but only time will tell.