3 minute read time
August 7, 2020

Executive Summary

  • 1.8 million jobs were added in July vs. an expectation of 1.5 million, following the strong gains that were achieved in May and June.
  • The unemployment rate fell by 90 bps to 10.2% and the labor participation rate decreased slightly to 61.4%.
  • The largest job gains were in the leisure & hospitality, government and retail sectors.
  • CBRE expects the real estate recovery—particularly in the office, retail and hotel sectors—will lag the economic recovery to varying degrees.

Commercial Real Estate Highlights

  • Office: Office-using sectors gained 191,000 jobs in July. Financial activities increased by 21,000 and professional & business services by 170,000. Though encouraging, current occupancy of office space remains extremely limited, particularly in dense metropolitan areas, due to virus concerns. The office market’s recovery will lag that of the economy until occupiers have a clearer picture of when the virus will be under control and offices can be safely reoccupied.
  • Industrial: Warehousing & storage jobs decreased by 5,700 in July, while manufacturing gained 26,000. Though a somewhat mixed report, the industrial property market has remained quite resilient amid the pandemic. A complete recovery in industrial leasing volume is expected by Q3 2021.
  • Retail: Solid job gains were achieved across retail sectors in July. Food services & drinking places gained 502,000 jobs. The broader retail sector gained more than 258,000. Though job creation is a positive indicator for retail real estate, market fundamentals are expected to significantly lag an overall economic recovery. Retail leasing volume is not expected to fully recover until late 2024.
  • Construction: The construction industry gained 20,000 jobs in July, largely in the residential sector. This activity has been supported by ultra-low interest rates and expectations of recovery.
  • Health Care: Employment growth in the health-care sector continued in July, with almost 126,000 jobs added. Hospitals and ambulatory health services saw gains as non-COVID-related medical procedures, such as elective surgery, resumed. Nursing and residential care services lost more than 28,000 jobs.
  • Multifamily: Employment growth bodes well for the multifamily sector. Still, a failure to extend enhanced unemployment benefits could cause some issues for the sector over the short term. Additionally, low interest rates are supporting the single-family housing market. These are areas of concern, but structural changes that have benefitted the sector remain intact.
  • Hotels: The hotel sector remains hard-hit by the cessation of most business travel and lower levels of leisure travel. Accommodation services gained only 2,800 jobs in July. A full recovery in the sector will take longer than all other asset classes, though hotels that cater to drive-to destinations are already recovering. Those that largely cater to business and international travelers will experience a much slower recovery. CBRE expects hotel demand will not fully recover until the end of 2023.

The Bottom Line

The July jobs report continued an employment recovery that began in May. To give some perspective, there are still almost 12.9 million fewer people employed than before the crisis began in February and the unemployment rate remains above its 10% peak following the Global Financial Crisis. Still, more than half of those who are unemployed report their status as temporary, giving reason to believe that with appropriate levels of policy support the jobs recovery will continue.

CBRE expects the recovery in commercial real estate fundamentals to lag the economic recovery and the pace of the rebound will vary by property type. Industrial and multifamily fundamentals will be the most resilient over the near term. The office recovery will not begin in earnest until occupiers can confidently assess timelines for reopening offices and establish longer-term flexible work policies. In short, recovery for most commercial real estate sectors—aside from industrial and multifamily—will not fully commence until 2021.

Importantly, CBRE’s forecasts anticipate additional policy support and medical breakthroughs to manage the virus. As such, there are notable downside risks to our forecasts. Furthermore, spikes in virus infections may affect local or state dynamics. Nevertheless, we expect the recovery to continue and solidify with strong overall economic growth through 2021.

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