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Half of downtown Seattle office workers have returned

caption: Downtown Seattle is shown from the Space Needle on Monday, July 25, 2022.
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Downtown Seattle is shown from the Space Needle on Monday, July 25, 2022.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer


About half of Seattle's downtown office workers have now returned to the office, when compared to pre-pandemic levels.

According to the latest assessment from the Downtown Seattle Association, or DSA, 51% of downtown employees have returned to the office Tuesday through Thursday, the most common in-office days.

The data reflects numbers as of May, when Amazon began requiring its employees to come into the office three days per week (the region's traffic has notably suffered at the same time). The downtown association says that this is the highest level of downtown office workers since 2019, before the pandemic.

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In April, the association reported that downtown was averaging 73,000 visits each day. The May numbers show an up tick to 87,919 visits.

Ridership on Metro buses into downtown have gone up 22% since May 2022, an increase of about 1,500 riders per day.

The DSA, and local business owners, have long pushed for downtown companies to bring workers back to offices, and in turn, bring their dollars. Currently, there are roughly 2,000 shops and other organizations open for business downtown.

“Workers returning to downtown benefits not only the restaurants and businesses who cater to them, but also residents, tourists and area families, even visitors who only stop by on occasion,” Chef Ethan Stowell said in a statement. “Downtown has historically been a vibrant social and commercial hub, and the presence of our guests, friends and neighbors is the best way to ensure the continued health of our community. People have always been what makes our city great!”

RELATED: South Lake Union businesses welcome Amazon workers' return to office

Visitors have also prompted a rise in downtown foot traffic. The DSA's May count states that 2.5 million people visited Seattle's core, which is about 92% of May 2019 numbers.

The association further notes that office employees specifically in the Denny Triangle are back to 52% of May 2019 numbers. Again, this accounts for Tuesday through Thursday. Hybrid workers still appear to favor staying at home on Mondays and Fridays.

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