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The hits keep on coming for the struggling office sector, beset by increasingly disrupted migration patterns and corporate location strategies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest piece of dismal news? Vacancies will likely show their largest increase this year, with marginal increases expected through 2023 as employers shore up return-to-work strategies, and the national vacancy rate matches the last historic high of 19.7% by 2022, according to Moody’s Analytics REIS.

The national office vacancy rate hit 17.7% in the fourth quarter of 2020, a 40 basis point increase over the third quarter and a 90 basis point increase year-over-year. The report notes that the “magnitude of deterioration in occupancy is relatively benign compared to the Great Recession,” when vacancies rose almost 200 basis points in 2008, but predicts that the true impact of the economic downturn is still yet to be seen.

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