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Visualizing 1 Billion Square Feet of Empty Office Space

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Visualizing 1 Billion Square Feet of Empty Office Space

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1 Billion Square Feet of Empty Office Space

In April, one of America’s largest office owners, Brookfield, defaulted on a $161 million loan.

The loan, covering 12 office buildings, was mainly concentrated in the Washington, D.C. market. Faced with low occupancy rates, it joined other office giants Blackstone and WeWork defaulting on office debt this year.

The above graphic shows nearly 1 billion square feet of empty office space in the U.S. based on data from JLL—and the wider implications of office towers standing empty.

Ranking U.S. Cities by Empty Office Space

At the end of the first quarter of 2023, a record 963 million square feet of office space was unoccupied in America. An estimated five to 10 office towers are at risk of defaulting each month according to Manus Clancy, senior managing director at Trepp.

Here are cities ranked by their total square feet of office vacancy as of Q1 2023. Figures include central business districts and suburban areas.

Ranking MarketTotal Vacancy (SF)Total Vacancy (%)
1New York75.8M16.1%
2Washington, D.C.74.0M20.8%
3Chicago63.2M23.5%
4Dallas53.5M25.0%
5Houston49.3M25.6%
6Los Angeles47.1M24.1%
7New Jersey43.3M25.8%
8Atlanta38.1M21.6%
9Boston31.8M19.1%
10Philadelphia27.8M18.8%
11Denver27.3M21.6%
12Phoenix25.2M23.9%
13San Francisco22.8M26.4%
14Seattle21.4M17.7%
15Minneapolis19.9M19.7%
16Detroit18.0M19.3%
17Orange County17.7M17.6%
18Salt Lake City13.9M18.5%
19Kansas City13.8M20.8%
20Pittsburgh13.8M21.8%
21Charlotte13.7M20.6%
22Austin13.6M18.9%
23Baltimore13.1M18.2%
24Portland12.8M17.5%
25Silicon Valley12.1M17.3%
26Oakland–East Bay11.7M22.0%
27San Diego10.7M12.3%
28St. Louis10.5M21.9%
29Cincinnati10.1M21.4%
30Sacramento9.9M19.6%
31Fairfield County9.7M25.4%
32Columbus9.7M21.7%
33Milwaukee9.2M24.0%
34Nashville9.0M18.9%
35Raleigh-Durham8.9M15.2%
36Indianapolis8.6M22.4%
37Tampa8.2M17.2%
38Fort Worth7.6M16.7%
39Miami7.6M16.2%
40Cleveland7.3M18.3%
41San Antonio7.2M17.8%
42Long Island6.3M15.2%
43Westchester County5.8M22.1%
44Jacksonville5.4M18.6%
45Orlando5.0M13.3%
46San Francisco Peninsula4.4M13.3%
47Richmond4.3M13.3%
48Fort Lauderdale4.3M16.1%
49North San Francisco Bay4.0M18.3%
50Louisville3.6M16.8%
51Des Moines3.2M12.0%
52Hampton Roads3.1M14.7%
53West Palm Beach2.4M10.3%
54Grand Rapids1.8M13.2%
United States962.5M20.2%

Numbers may not total 100 due to rounding.

New York has roughly 76 million square feet of empty office space. If this were stacked as a single office building, it would stretch 7 miles into the atmosphere. In 2019, the office sector accounted for about a third of all jobs in the city.

Falling closely behind is Washington, D.C. with a 21% vacancy rate—8% higher than what is typically considered healthy. Occupiers are downsizing given remote work trends, yet some office buildings are being converted to residential properties, curtailing vacancy rates.

Across 54 markets in the dataset, San Francisco has the highest vacancy rate at over 26%. Prior to the pandemic, vacancy rates were about 4%. This year, Salesforce walked away from a 30-story tower in downtown San Francisco spanning 104,000 square feet in an effort to cut costs.

Overall, rising interest rates and higher vacancies have hurt U.S. office markets, with many cities potentially seeing an uptick in vacancies going forward.

Empty Office Space: Impact on Banks

Office building valuations are projected to fall 30% in 2023 according to Richard Barkham, global chief economist at CBRE Group.

A sharp decline in property values could potentially result in steep losses for banks. This is especially true for small and regional banks that make up the majority of U.S. office loans. Big banks cover roughly 20% of office and downtown retail totals.

Consider how commercial real estate exposure breaks down by different types of banks:

Bank AssetsCommercial Real Estate Loans
% of Total Assets
Share of Industry Assets
<$100M11.3%0.2%
$100M-$1B26.9%4.7%
$1B-$10B32.5%9.7%
$10B-$250B18.1%30.1%
>$250B5.6%55.5%

Source: FitchRatings

For big banks, a recent stress test by the Federal Reserve shows that a 40% decline in commercial property values could result in a $65 billion loss on their commercial loan portfolios. The good news is that many big banks are sitting on healthy capital reserves based on requirements set in place after the global financial crisis.

Smaller banks are a different story. Many have higher loan concentrations and less oversight on reserve requirements. If these loan portfolios deteriorate, banks may face a downgrade in ratings and higher credit losses.

Additionally, banks with loans in markets with high vacancy rates like San Francisco, Houston, and Washington, D.C. could see more elevated risk.

How High Rates Could Escalate Losses

Adding further strain are the ramifications of higher interest rates.

Higher rates have negatively impacted smaller banks’ balance sheets—meaning they are less likely to issue new loans. This is projected to cause commercial real estate transaction volume to decline 27% in 2023, contributing to lower prices. Banks have already slowed lending for commercial real estate in 2023 due to credit quality concerns.

The good news is that some banks are extending existing loan terms or restructuring debt. In this way, banks are willing to negotiate new loan agreements to prevent widespread foreclosures from hurting their commercial loan portfolios. Short-term extensions on existing loans were often seen during the global financial crisis.

Still, foreclosures could take place if restructuring the loan doesn’t make financial sense.

Overall, only so many banks may be willing to wait out the uncertainty with loan extensions if fundamentals continue to worsen. Offices that are positioned to weather declines will likely have better quality, location, roster of tenants, and financing structures.

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Globalization

Top U.S. Food Imports by Origin Country

This infographic shows the top exporting countries for U.S. food imports, ranging from exotic fruits to meat, oils, spices, and more.

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Top U.S. food imports from countries

Top U.S. Food Imports by Origin Country

The U.S. is a major producer and exporter of food products, but did you know that it’s also one of the world’s largest food importers?

Due to seasonality and climate, some foods can’t be grown on home soil, at least enough to fulfill consumption demands. Indeed, many familiar grocery items come from other countries.

This infographic from Julie Peasley uses data from the Chatham House Resource Trade Database (CHRTD) to show where the U.S. gets its food from, highlighting the top exporting countries of various imported food items.

The Types of Imported Foods

The U.S. imported around $148 billion worth of agricultural products in 2020, and according to the USDA, this has since risen to $194 billion in 2022.

Around 50% of all U.S. agricultural imports are horticultural products like fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and more. Other large import categories include sugar and tropical products, meat, grains, and oilseeds.

With that context in mind, we break down each category and highlight the five foods with the largest single-origin import value.

Farm Fresh: Fruit and Vegetable Imports

U.S. fruit and vegetable imports have been on a steady rise since 2000. In fact, between 2011 and 2021, fruits and nuts imports made up 44% of domestic consumption, while 35% of vegetables consumed in the U.S. came from outside the country.

Mexico is by far the largest exporter of fruits and vegetables to the United States.

Fruit or VegetableLargest Exporting CountryU.S. Import Value (2020)
Tomatoes🇲🇽 Mexico$2.5B
Avocados🇲🇽 Mexico$2.1B
Peppers🇲🇽 Mexico$1.4B
Bananas🇬🇹 Guatemala$1.0B
Strawberries🇲🇽 Mexico$897M

The U.S. imported $2.5 billion worth of tomatoes from Mexico in 2020, representing 31% of international tomato trade. Avocados, native to central Mexico, were nearly as popular with $2.1 billion worth of imports.

Generally, the largest exporters of fruits and vegetables to the U.S. are North and South American countries, with products often coming from Guatemala, Chile, Peru, Costa Rica, and Brazil.

Beefed Up: Meat Imports

The U.S. is the world’s largest overall consumer of beef (or bovine meat), and the third-largest per capita consumer at nearly 37.9 kg (84 lbs) per person per year.

Therefore, despite being one of the top producers of beef, the country still imports a lot of it.

MeatLargest Exporting CountryU.S. Import Value (2020)
Bovine Cuts🇨🇦 Canada$1.4B
Bovine Cuts, Frozen🇳🇿 New Zealand$839M
Sheep Meat🇦🇺 Australia$643M
Swine Hams, Shoulders, and Cuts🇨🇦 Canada$559M
Bovine Cuts, Bone In🇲🇽 Mexico$449M

Precisely, The U.S. imported $8.7 billion worth of meat in 2020. Canada was the largest source of imported beef, with the U.S. accounting for more than 70% of all Canadian beef exports.

The sources of meat imports are more geographically diverse than fruits and vegetables, with billions of dollars of imports coming from New Zealand and Australia.

Making Waves: Seafood Imports

Despite plenty of coastlines, the U.S. imports 70–85% of all its seafood and accounted for 15% of global seafood imports in 2020 at $21.8 billion.

Frozen shrimp and prawns were the top seafood import, with $1.9 billion worth from India.

Fish and SeafoodLargest Exporting CountryU.S. Import Value (2020)
Shrimp and Prawns, Frozen🇮🇳 India$1.9B
Fish Fillet or Meat🇨🇱 Chile$1.4B
Fish Fillet or Meat, Frozen🇨🇳 China$884M
Lobsters🇨🇦 Canada$764M
Crabs, Frozen🇨🇦 Canada$719M

The largest source of U.S. seafood imports overall with $3.1 billion total was Canada, which leads in lobster, crab, and whole fish imports. It was followed by Chile at $2.1 billion, primarily for parts of fish (fillet or meat, fresh or chilled).

Other Foods: Oils, Grains, Coffee, and More

There are plenty of other types of foods and agricultural products that the U.S. relies on other countries for. Here are the largest single-origin U.S. food imports for the remaining categories:

FoodCategoryLargest Exporting CountryU.S. Import Value (2020)
Canola Oil, RefinedOils🇨🇦 Canada$1.4B
Coffee, Not RoastedStimulants/Spices🇨🇴 Colombia$1.0B
Cashews, ShelledNuts/Seeds/Beans🇻🇳 Vietnam$960M
Raw Sugar, RefinedSweetners🇲🇽 Mexico$723M
RiceCereals🇹🇭 Thailand$713M
CheeseDairy🇮🇹 Italy$310M

Some of the highest and potentially surprising exports? Imports of refined Canadian canola oil totaled $1.4 billion in 2020, while Vietnam exported a whopping $960 million worth of cashews to America.

A Global Plate: The Diversity of U.S. Food Imports

The amount and value of food imported to the U.S. highlights the diversity of consumer preferences and the importance of global food stocks, considering America is one of the world’s leading food producers.

With countries having to rely on others to satisfy demand for limited production supply or exotic foods, the interconnectedness of the global food system is both vital and delicate.

What’s clear is that the U.S. food plate is indeed a global one, with many foods taking remarkable journeys from farm to fork.

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