Remember those pandemic-era tales of people fleeing cities to work at home in more agreeable surroundings? Turns out, they didn’t go far.
While a full return to office remains a distant prospect in cities like Chicago, New York and San Francisco, workers who left highly populated areas either stayed close to the city or just moved to another neighborhood, according to foot traffic analytics firm Placer.ai.
“Many assumed that there would be mass exoduses from cities as people, feeling constrained by lockdowns, would seek outdoor space,” a Placer report reads. “Foot traffic data tells a slightly different story.”
While some people made big moves, most stayed in place while others stayed close to their region of origin, according to the report. Many who relocated across state lines chose areas where the population had already been rising before the pandemic.
Many people who left Brooklyn from April 2020 to April 2022 stayed close to the city, for example, by moving to New Jersey, Connecticut and upstate New York. Some even stayed in the city: More than 10 percent of people who exited Brooklyn moved to Queens, and about 9 percent picked Manhattan.
Still, New York had a net population loss of between 1 and 2 percent, as did California. Meanwhile, the Sun Belt states of Florida, Texas and Arizona each had population growth of between 2 and 4 percent. The firm said those were existing trends that were seemingly uninterrupted by the pandemic.
Trips to the office in New York, Chicago and San Francisco remain far below pre-pandemic levels, data from the firm shows. San Francisco had the biggest drop, with office visits down 67.8 percent. Visits to office buildings fell 45.7 percent in Chicago and 40.6 percent in New York.