The COVID-19 pandemic has forced some state governments to impose strict stay-at-home orders that are adversely affecting many industries. This is leading the U.S. economy into a recession that will result in very sharp declines in GDP for H1 2020 and in job losses, particularly in the retail, food & beverage and transportation sectors. Office-using employment may be less negatively affected than in recent recessions.
The unique nature of this downturn should result in an unusually swift recovery that could begin as early as Q3 2020. Assuming the coronavirus peaks this summer in the U.S.—mirroring China’s experience—the U.S. government’s fiscal and monetary stimulus will begin to bear fruit. This will be paired with pent-up private demand that could help the U.S. economy return to growth by year-end and drive stronger than previously expected growth in 2021.
Lease transaction volume and touring activity started strong in January and February compared with Q4 2019. In March, however, activity slowed across some markets as temporary shelter-in-place orders increased, and many companies and workers adapted to new virtual working conditions.