How Do Crime Rates Affect Office Occupancy in U.S. Cities?

One of the prevailing theories about why U.S. workers are not returning to offices in greater numbers is the rise in crime rates in major cities. San Francisco stands out in this discussion; the city has witnessed significant office vacancies, compounded by challenges of homelessness and a surge in property crimes. Meanwhile, in New York City, many have raised concerns about crime on public transport as a major factor discouraging office-goers. To delve deeper into this hypothesis and determine the relationship between crime rates and office occupancy, we have analyzed quarterly violent crime data against the latest office occupancy statistics for several of the nation’s largest cities.

CityViolent crime rate/100,000 people (Q1 2023)Office occupancyPhiladelphia21840.6%Dallas19153.7%Los Angeles18249.3%New York City16349.1%San Francisco15846.5%Washington, D.C.14546.5%San Jose12339.1%Austin110.259.4%Sources: Crime figures via Major Cities Chiefs Association first quarter 2023 violent crime survey (January 1 to March 21, 2023) measuring homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault; Office occupancy rates June 28, 2023, Kastle Systems

Of the eight cities measured, Philadelphia had the highest violent crime rate and the second-lowest office occupancy. At the same time, Dallas had the second-highest crime rate and the second-highest office occupancy. In Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest city, office occupancy was 49.3 percent while the quarterly violent crime rate was the third-highest of the cities measured. Austin had the highest office occupancy of the cities measured, at 59.4 percent. It also had the lowest violent crime rate of all cities measured here, at 110.2 per 100,000 people. 

Interestingly, the city with the lowest office occupancy, San Jose, also

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