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From superstar cities to ghost towns: Two-thirds of workplaces in major hubs have yet to reopen

September 3, 2020, 9:00 AM UTC
Xinzheng—via Getty Images

Even as COVID-19 cases drop across the nation, most workplaces in large metropolitan areas remain closed.

Only 27% of U.S. workplaces in America’s 20 largest metropolitan areas will be reopened by the end of September. That’s the finding from a poll of more than 1,000 executives by the Conference Board between Aug. 19 and 26, which was shared exclusively with Fortune.

Another 8% of workplaces in large metros plan to reopen before the end of the year, and 21% sometime in 2021. While 40% have either no timeline to reopen (35%) or are waiting for a vaccine (5%). And 3% say they’ll stay remote permanently.

This spells trouble for both the finances of big cities and small businesses, like restaurants and shops, which are dependent on foot traffic from nearby offices.

And as workplaces in big cities remain closed, some employees are already looking to leave town. Americans living in urban areas are twice as likely to say they’ll move out as a result of the pandemic (11%), compared to Americans living in rural areas (5%), finds a Fortune-SurveyMonkey poll of 2,478 U.S. adults between Aug. 17 and 18.

The Conference Board poll was conducted among 1,100 businesspersons across 20 U.S. metropolitan statistical areas. It included CEOs, C-suite executives, vice presidents, and senior managers.