Crime rates keeping workers out of NYC offices not COVID, study shows

At least 20% of NYC office space is likely to remain empty through 2026, the city projected

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Crime rates in New York City threaten a long-term decline of workers going into Manhattan offices, according to a nonprofit group that advocates for local business leaders.

Less than 40% of office workers in Manhattan go into the office on a typical week day, according to a study by the Partnership for New York City that is set to be released Monday.

Kathryn Wylde, who is president and CEO of the group, said during a radio Sunday interview on WABC that the city's declining office attendance is not because of COVID-19 but rather "the public safety problem" and rampant homelessness.

"When we asked employers what’s the factor that would be most effective in bringing people back to the office, they said, ‘Reduce the presence of the homeless and mentally ill individuals, and expand police presence on the streets and subways,’" Wylde said.

New York, New York (iStock)

New York, New York (iStock) (iStock)

"There’s no mystery here. No matter what employers do to encourage [their employees to return to the office], … if we can’t solve the public safety problem," she continued. "If we can’t do that, we are going to see a long-term decline in the presence of folks who are willing to take the subway and come back to the office."

Wylde also pointed out that while office life has yet to rebound, nightlife and dining have returned to the city. "We’re just not quite back to the office yet," she said.

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Crime rates in New York City have surged in recent years, with major crimes skyrocketing 34.2% in April alone, according to the New York Police Department (NYPD).

The 5th Avenue area is completely empty on Friday, March 2020 in New York, NY. The city officially announced the closure of all non-essential businesses and implemented a lockdown order earlier in the week. 

The 5th Avenue area is completely empty on Friday, March 2020 in New York, NY. The city officially announced the closure of all non-essential businesses and implemented a lockdown order earlier in the week.  (Erin Lefevre/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Partnership for New York City's study also found that while 39% of Manhattan workers come to their desks on the average weekday, most of them only come in three days per week on average.

Before the pandemic, more than 80% of Manhattan office workers polled by the group were required to be in the office five days per week, Wylde explained.

A seagull flies past One World Trade Center and the Empire State Building as seen from the Staten Island Ferry on Sept. 4, 2020, in New York City.

A seagull flies past One World Trade Center and the Empire State Building as seen from the Staten Island Ferry on Sept. 4, 2020, in New York City. (Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

During a different study the group conducted that was released in March, 84% of those polled said conditions in New York City have worsened since 2020 and 40% say they are considering moving out.

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The City anticipates at least 20% of the five boroughs’ office space will remain empty through at least 2026, according to its projected budget.

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