• Cities Where Workers Head to Office, Biden Stretches Lead, US Hotel Occupancy Slips, Private Payroll

    Cities Where Workers Head to Office, Biden Stretches Lead, US Hotel Occupancy Slips, Private Payrolls Grow

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    An election worker in Georgia counted absentee ballots Wednesday in a tight presidential race in the state. (Getty Images)
    An election worker in Georgia counted absentee ballots Wednesday in a tight presidential race in the state. (Getty Images)

     

    Where Workers Head to the Office

     

    Houston adds another week atop the list of major cities with the highest rate of employees heading back into the office, with a 95% increase over the eight weeks that ended Oct. 28, according to access card entry data from Kastle Systems.

    Miami leads the 20 largest metropolitan areas where Kastle has clients, in terms of occupancy for the week that ended Oct. 28. Miami moved ahead of San Diego for change in occupancy over the past two months because of San Diego's decrease to 62%.

    Falls Church, Virginia-based Kastle collects anonymous employee data from buildings where it provides access control technology for workplaces. While the data only uses in-and-out information for office workers captured from one security company, it provides a look at how businesses are dealing with the pandemic, a situation that's constantly changing.

     

    Biden Stretches Lead

     

    Former Vice President Joe Biden added to his lead in the Electoral College in his bid to unseat Republican President Donald Trump while election results still are pending in several states and mail-in ballots continue to be counted.

    Biden picked up Wisconsin and Michigan in narrow wins in states Trump barely won in 2016. Some media outlets called Arizona for Biden while others hadn’t yet. Biden was leading in Arizona as of Wednesday evening and a win would be a flip from Republican to Democrat for just the second time since the 1950s for the state.

    During his campaign, Biden proposed eliminating favorable tax treatment on 1031 exchanges, a section of the tax code that allows investors to defer capital gains taxes when they sell and then reinvest in other real estate. He also has proposed reducing exemptions for passive loss rules on rental losses.

    If he wins, though, following through on those proposals could run into obstacles in the Senate. So far, Democrat hopes are fading of flipping control of the Senate, a big goal leading into election night.

    Democrats flipped two seats, one in Colorado and one in Arizona. Republicans, however, flipped Alabama away from the Democrats and dashed hopes in Iowa, Maine, Montana, South Carolina and possibly one of the seats up for grabs in Georgia.

    The other Georgia seat is headed to a runoff election between a Democrat and a Republican. A North Carolina Senate seat still wasn’t decided as of Wednesday night.

    Meanwhile, Republicans gained several seats in House elections, flipping seats lost in 2018 to Democrats to potentially cut into the Democrat majority.

    US Hotel Occupancy Slips Further

     

    In a sign of slowing leisure travel, U.S. hotel occupancy dipped further last week to about what the number was in mid-June.

    Hotel industry research firm STR, which is owned by CoStar Group, reported that hotels averaged occupancy of about 44.4%. That drops below the 46.2% average during the week that ended June 27 when the industry’s occupancy was on an upward trend because of leisure travelers.

    Weekend occupancy fell below 50% for the first time in months, registering 48.8% last week.

    Last week’s occupancy came during the worst week for the coronavirus pandemic with more than 550,000 new confirmed cases.

    While occupancy was down, revenue per available room, another key metric for the lodging industry, was down 48.8% from the same week last year. That’s better than being down more than 50%, the prevailing trend in prior weeks.

    Preliminary numbers for October show revenue per available room stalling in the fall, said Jan Freitag, CoStar’s national director for hospitality analytics.

    Since the summer, leisure travelers had driven occupancy in limited service hotels, particularly economy class hotels, above 50%. Last week, economy hotels were the only class above 50% occupancy, and barely at 50.3%.

    Private Payrolls Grow at Slower Rate

     

    Private payrolls grew slower than expected in October, a possible sign of the economy’s uneven recovery.

    Payroll company ADP reported Wednesday that companies added 365,000 jobs in October, far below the 600,000 economists had projected. The number falls below the 749,000 reported in September but higher than 428,000 reported in August.

    ADP’s October increase was split fairly evenly among business size. The service sector drove the increase with 348,000 jobs, roughly a third of those in leisure and hospitality.

    On Friday, the Labor Department releases its monthly jobs report. It’s expected to show growth as well but at a slower pace, Bob McNab, director of the Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, wrote on LinkedIn.

    “Of increasing concern is the looming expiration of expanded unemployment insurance (PUA and PEUC), expirations on eviction and foreclosure moratoriums, and the possibility of a government shutdown" on Dec. 11, McNab wrote. “Regardless of who wins the presidency, there is a mountain of work to be done at the end of 2020 and into 2021."