How many square feet do Manhattan office workers get?

Economic Pulse
July 2, 2014

Note: All of the figures below are taken from a report released today from NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer.

The report is primarily a report on “the tale of two cities”—the “report finds that to the extent that office workers in Manhattan earn, on average, more than double what workers who don’t work in office buildings earn, employment in the office economy represents enhanced access to a middle-class standard of living.” The report also significantly delves into the gender and race composition of office workers. Nonetheless, the following are key take-aways from the report (which looks at data from 1990 and 2012):

303 SF/worker

“Our process yielded a total estimate of 1,203,000 Manhattan office workers in 2012. Given a Manhattan office building inventory of 402 million gross square feet in 2012, and a total vacancy rate of 9.3 percent, our count implies a reasonable 303 gross occupied square feet per worker in that year.”

More Manhattanites, and more NJ commuters

More workers in Manhattan now live in Manhattan. Moreover, more workers commute from NJ and PA in 2012 than in 1990 as a % of total office workers. (Table below.) “With the growth of New Jersey as a domicile of Manhattan’s office workforce, and most of Manhattan’s new office space planned for the World Trade Center site and the Hudson Yards, transit access between New Jersey and Manhattan may become more of a constraint on the region’s economic development. (Manhattan office workers who live in New Jersey spent, on average, 67 minutes commuting to work each way in 2012, up from an average of 56 minutes in 1990.)”

Manhattan Office Workers Place of Residence

More education

“We estimate that there are over 100,000 computer-related technology jobs in Manhattan office workplaces... the percentage of Manhattan office workers with a least a BA degree increased from 54 percent in 1990 to 77 percent in 2012, as a result of a changing occupational mix within offices, a greater use of office technology, and a competitive inflation of educational requirements. By 2012, nearly one-third of all Manhattan office workers possessed graduate degrees.”

The largest increase in salary among office workers went to... architects

(Table below). “The data indicate that while the relative growth of office worker earnings may have been boosted by a shift toward higher-paying jobs, the earnings gains were mostly driven by pay increases realized by traditional professional and skilled occupations. Architects, accountants, financial managers and lawyers all experienced earnings increases well above the average although the nature of those jobs, including their skill content and educational requirements, changed little during that time. The growth in office worker earnings was concurrent with a substantial increase in the educational qualifications of office workers, but the relationship between earnings growth and educational attainment was not necessarily causal.”

Average Earnings from Wages and Salary

More office kitchens for late-night dinners?

“It is not all wine and roses for office workers. The average office worker works more hours per week than the average non-office worker and the gap has been growing. In 1990, the average Manhattan office worker worked 40.2 hours per week, but by 2012 that had increased to 43.6 hours.”