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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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Who Owns the Most Vehicles per Capita, by Country?

Here are the highest vehicles per capita by country as a growing global middle class is fueling car ownership rates around the world.

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This bar graph shows the number of vehicles per 1,000 people around the world.

Who Owns the Most Vehicles per Capita, by Country?

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

In 2020, there were 289 million vehicles in use in America, or about 18% of the global total.

With one of the largest car ownership rates worldwide, the number of U.S. cars on the road have more than doubled since the 1960s. But how does ownership compare to other countries, and who is seeing the fastest growth rates amid a rising global middle class?

This graphic shows vehicles per capita by country, based on data from the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA).

Highest Car Ownership Rates Worldwide

Below, we rank countries based on the number of registered vehicles in use per 1,000 people, including both passenger cars and commercial vehicles as of 2020:

CountryNumber of Vehicles in Use
per 1000 Inhabitants
Average Annual Growth Rate
2015-2020
🇳🇿 New Zealand8693%
🇺🇸 U.S.8602%
🇵🇱 Poland7614%
🇮🇹 Italy7561%
🇦🇺 Australia7372%
🇨🇦 Canada7073%
🇫🇷 France7041%
🇨🇿 Czechia6583%
🇵🇹 Portugal6402%
🇳🇴 Norway6351%
🇦🇹 Austria6322%
🇬🇧 UK6322%
🇩🇪 Germany6272%
🇪🇸 Spain6272%
🇬🇷 Greece6171%
🇯🇵 Japan6120%
🇨🇭 Switzerland6041%
🇧🇪 Belgium5901%
🇳🇱 Netherlands5882%
🇫🇮 Finland5771%
🇸🇪 Sweden5441%
🇩🇰 Denmark5402%
🇮🇪 Ireland5403%
🇲🇾 Malaysia5356%
🇸🇰 Slovakia5133%
🇱🇾 Libya4904%
🇧🇬 Bulgaria485-1%
🇭🇷 Croatia4743%
🇸🇾 Syria4727%
🇭🇺 Hungary4634%
🇰🇷 South Korea4582%
🇷🇴 Romania4387%
🇮🇱 Israel4044%
🇷🇺 Russia3892%
🇧🇾 Belarus3871%
🇲🇽 Mexico3584%
🇹🇼 Taiwan3441%
🇦🇪 UAE3438%
🇷🇸 Serbia3304%
🇦🇷 Argentina3110%
🇹🇭 Thailand2775%
🇨🇱 Chile2461%
🇰🇿 Kazakhstan226-1%
🇨🇳 China22314%
🇹🇷 Türkiye2204%
🇧🇷 Brazil2141%
🇺🇦 Ukraine192-1%
🇮🇷 Iran1832%
🇿🇦 South Africa1761%
🇪🇨 Ecuador1523%
🇻🇪 Venezuela149-1%
🇩🇿 Algeria1443%
🇲🇦 Morocco1124%
🇨🇴 Colombia1111%
🇮🇶 Iraq1114%
🇵🇪 Peru884%
🇮🇩 Indonesia785%
🇪🇬 Egypt644%
🇳🇬 Nigeria565%
🇻🇳 Vietnam5017%
🇵🇭 Philippines383%
🇮🇳 India3310%
🇵🇰 Pakistan207%

Clinching top spot is New Zealand, a country known for its love of cars.

With nearly nine cars on the road to every 10 people, this figure is notably high considering that children make up about 20% of the population. The majority of cars are imported second hand from Japan thanks to a wave of deregulation in the 1980s along with the country being a major producer of right-hand drive cars.

The U.S. falls close behind, with a clear preference for trucks and SUVs. In fact, the Ford F-1 Series has been the best-selling vehicle in America for 42 consecutive years.

In Europe, Poland has the highest number of vehicles per person, but one of the lowest share of electric vehicles (EVs). While EVs make up nearly 16% of all cars in top-ranking country Norway, they comprise 0.1% in Poland. On average, EVs account for 0.8% of passenger cars in the European Union.

Driven by an expanding middle class, Vietnam has seen the fastest growth in ownership. Between 2015 and 2020, the motorization rate grew by an astonishing 17% each year. Additionally, China witnessed 14% growth while India’s vehicles per 1,000 people increased 10% annually over the period.

The Top EV Markets, by Country

As EV sales gain momentum, here are the biggest markets worldwide, based on the number of all-EV cars in use as of 2022:

CountryEstimated Number of EVs in Use
2022
🇨🇳 China11,000,000
🇺🇸 U.S.2,100,000
🇩🇪 Germany1,000,000
🇫🇷 France620,000
🇳🇴 Norway590,000
🇬🇧 UK550,000
🇳🇱 Netherlands340,000
🇰🇷 South Korea300,000
🇨🇦 Canada250,000
🇯🇵 Japan210,000

Source: IEA Global EV Outlook 2023

China is home to over half of the world’s EVs.

Its foothold on the global EV market can be explained by its close proximity to the raw materials used in EV batteries. In fact, China produces roughly 70% of the world’s rare earth metals and has more battery production capacity than all other countries combined.

Adding to this, China developed key government policies that specifically tackled operational hurdles, such as battery constraints, leading to innovation in core technologies. In 2023, EVs made up 31% of all car sales in China, boosted by government incentives and strong consumer demand.

Norway is another leader in the EV market, whose government began introducing EV policies as early as 1990. By 2025, the country aims to phase out internal combustion engine vehicle sales completely. About 80% of all vehicles sales in Norway were EVs in 2022, the highest in the world.

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