Is downtown DC a ghost town? Not quite, but close

Office buildings with uniform heights are seen on 13th Street NW in downtown D.C., Tuesday, April 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)(AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
FILE — Office buildings with uniform heights are seen on 13th street Northwest in downtown Washington, Tuesday, April 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
A Downtown DC Economy Update released by the Downtown Business Improvement District highlights the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect. It reports downtown D.C.’s daytime population has dropped from 225,000 in February to 22,000 as of July, a 90% decline.

As of July, the BID also reports 95% of downtown D.C. office workers had been working virtually for over four months.

Downtown D.C.’s economic activity at the end of July was an estimated 12% of July 2019.

The report also sheds light on how many jobs have been lost in the District as a whole. D.C.’s June 2020 employment was 740,300, a decrease of 58,600 jobs, or a 7.3% decline.

Of those jobs lost, 67% were in the hospitality and leisure sector, with more than 29,000 restaurant and bar job losses, almost 6,000 lost at hotels and 4,200 lost in arts, entertainment and recreation.

The employment in the BID’s roughly 138-block downtown area was 179,700 as of June 2020, a decrease of 8,900 jobs from a year earlier, or 4.7%. Most of those lost were at hotels, restaurants, theaters, the convention center and at Capital One Arena.

The Downtown DC BID covers an area from Massachusetts Avenue in the north to Constitution Avenue on the south, and from Louisiana Avenue on the east to 16th Street Northwest on the west.

For hotels, the occupancy rate in downtown D.C. was just 3% in April, rising to just 8% by June.

As of July, restaurant revenue in downtown D.C. was just 20% to 40% of year ago sales.

Only three large museums in downtown D.C. are currently open: the International Spy Museum, the Museum of the Bible and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

The office vacancy rate in the Downtown DC BID was a record 15.3% as of July, higher than the overall office vacancy rate throughout the District of 11%.

The full report from the Downtown BID can be viewed on its website.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.


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Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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