Spotlight: CIA

CIAThanks to extensive media coverage, both positive and negative, and to countless spy novels and movies, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is the best-known intelligence unit within the U.S. government, virtually synonymous with intelligence generally. In fact, CIA (it’s “the Agency,” or “Central Intelligence,” or “the Central Intelligence Agency,” but never “the CIA”) is only one of many intelligence agencies within the federal government, all of which contribute to the development and analysis of information used by government leaders to formulate foreign policy.

CIA, an independent federal agency, was created in 1947 at the dawn of the Cold War. The Agency was initially charged with coordinating the work of military and civilian intelligence analysts around the world. That mission continues today, though more specialized, separate units such as the National Security Agency have taken on some of CIA’s former responsibilities. Its current charge is to “preempt threats and further US national security objectives by collecting intelligence that matters, producing objective all-source analysis, conducting effective covert action as directed by the President, and safeguarding the secrets that help keep our Nation safe.” Among its concerns are the monitoring of nuclear-arms proliferation, terrorism, international organized crime, and drug trafficking, all of which are rightly seen as threats to national security.

CIA itself does not make policy decisions. Neither, contrary to widespread opinion, does it routinely spy on American citizens. Its mandate is largely to collect information related to foreign intelligence and counterintelligence, and only if an American citizen is suspected of working for outside governments or terrorist organizations does the Agency have interest in his or her doings.

CIA, naturally enough, does not widely advertise its activities, particularly those of a covert nature, and its staff and budget are classified. However, based on documents leaked by Eric Snowden, the Washington Post reported last year that the Agency’s budget was $14.7 billion, a 56% increase from the prior decade. If the information is correct, CIA’s discretionary budget is larger than each of of the Departments of Commerce, Labor, Interior and Treasury.

The Agency employs an estimated 21,000 workers, including specialists such as scientists, electrical engineers, mathematicians, linguists, and computer analysts, as well as field operatives. A survey conducted by the Washington Post in 2010 holds that the overall intelligence community occupies office space totaling more than 17 million square feet, the equivalent of nearly three Pentagons. On CIA’s main campus, which comprises 258 acres, the headquarters complex contains at least 2.5 million square feet of office space.

The Agency owns and leases buildings elsewhere in the District of Columbia, the country, and the world, though, for obvious reasons, no good figures are available as to their location and extent. Even the details of the Agency’s office space in the World Trade Center, destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, remain unknown outside the halls of Langley.

CIA does not allow general access to its headquarters in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., which the Agency’s first director, Allen Dulles, selected precisely because it was private and secure. It maintains a public presence, however, through the publication of the highly useful and readily available World Factbook, a frequently updated almanac of information on world events, as well as of millions of other pages of documents that are released each year.

For more information, visit the Agency’s website at www.cia.gov.

Building Cybersecurity, Homeland Security, and the GAO

GAO-15-6Think of the many ways in which computers control buildings, from HVAC systems to electronic door locks and the flow of gas, water, and electricity. Now think of the many ways in which those computers can go haywire, from corrupt software to a power surge. Finally, think of what a person with bad intentions might do to a building’s computer system by means of another computer—with results ranging from mere inconvenience to outright destruction.

In the view of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the General Services Administration (GSA) have not been thinking nearly hard enough about these matters, which clearly fall under their purview. In a report publicly issued on January 12, GAO observes that DHS lacks a coherent strategy to the problem of assessing threats and countering risks to federal buildings and access control systems. So absent is this strategy, in fact, that no one within DHS has even begun the work of assessing those risks in the 9,000-odd federal facilities that fall under the oversight of the Federal Protective Service (FPS).

Meanwhile, the GAO continues, the Interagency Security Committee within DHS has failed even to identify cybersecurity issues in its official report on the broad topic of “design-basis threat,” contrary to directives within the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) of 2002. The ISC counters that it has been busy addressing the problems of shooters and workplace violence that have so prominently announced themselves at federal facilities, but as the GAO report puts it in so many words, if building cybersecurity is not listed as an area of concern, then no one will be concerned with it.

The GAO report observes that access control systems—“computers that monitor and control building operations such as elevators, electrical power, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning,” by its definition—are increasingly connected to the Internet, and thus vulnerable to cyber attack. “Cyber threat sources include corrupt employees, criminal groups, hackers, and terrorists,” the report notes. “These threat sources vary in terms of the capabilities of the actors, their willingness to act, and their motives, which can include monetary or political gain or mischief, among other things.”

That threat requires strong countermeasures, and strong leadership in the face of the vaguely delineated responses that are now in place. As the GAO study notes, for instance, in a survey of federal security assessment reports, about a quarter give some indication that GSA has examined how users can gain access to those systems, but only to the extent that a user name and password are required—and not whether federal rules on password complexity are being met.

The GAO report concludes with three recommendations for executive action, the first two concerning DHS and the last concerning GSA. We quote verbatim:

  • Recommendation: The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with GSA, should develop and implement a strategy to address cyber risk to building and access control systems that, among other things: (1) defines the problem; (2) identifies roles and responsibilities; (3) analyzes the resources needed; and (4) identifies a methodology for assessing this cyber risk.
  1. Recommendation: The Secretary of Homeland Security should direct ISC to incorporate the cyber threat to building and access control systems into ISC’s list of undesirable events in its Design-Basis Threat report.
  2. Recommendation: The Administrator of the General Services Administration should assess the building and access control systems that it owns in FPS- protected facilities in a manner that is fully consistent with FISMA and its implementation guidelines.

According to GAO, both DHS and GSA concur that these measures need to be put in place. The full GAO report is available here.

Better Late Than Never: Congress Reauthorizes TRIA

On January 8th, as anticipated at the close of the 113th Congress, the House of Representatives and Senate voted overwhelmingly to reauthorize the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA).

In one of the first pieces of legislative business to be conducted since the convocation of the 114th Congress, the House voted 416–5 on January 7 to extend TRIA for six years. The substance of the bill is identical to the one passed in the House in December: it includes provisions to reimburse insurers for any costs above $200 million in the event of an act of terrorism. (This is double the amount provided for under the terms of the original TRIA, which expired on December 31.) At the same time, it raises co-payments on the part of those insurers from 15 percent to 20 percent.

In less than 24 hours, the Senate passed its own version of the bill by a vote of 93–4. As passed, the bill, which also reauthorizes TRIA for six years, adds several provisions. One is to remove Dodd-Frank Act restrictions so that agricultural and energy companies are exempted from the derivative regulations that banks must follow. The new TRIA legislation also provides for the establishment of the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB), which would allow agents and brokers to apply to a central clearinghouse, administered by state insurance commissioners, that would in turn streamline multi-state licensing.

It was an objection to that final provision on the part of now retired Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) that led him to successfully block the vote on December 16, thus allowing TRIA to expire. Political observers consider the speed with which TRIA cleared both chambers of Congress to be a hopeful sign that a long-standing pattern of gridlock may be at an end. It’s worth noting, too, that while opposition to TRIA in the House was confined to Republicans, that on the Senate side was bipartisan—and saw an unlikely agreement of Senators Elizabeth Warren and Marco Rubio in voting nay.

The White House opposes the Dodd-Frank exclusion, but there is no indication that a veto is in the offing. Look for President Obama to sign the TRIA reauthorization, then, when it reaches his desk.

Common Lease Expiration Dates

Lease Expirations

The most common lease expiration dates (without regard for year of expiration) are highlighted in the chart above. To avoid confusion, note that the chart above lists the volume of leases expiring on each calendar day, regardless of the year of expiration.

Did you sense a mild “thump” today? A slight disturbance in The Force? Today, December 31st, more GSA leases expire than any other day of the year. It got me thinking why that is, and whether there is any pattern or seasonality to GSA’s leasing process.  As it turns out, there are some notable phenomena:

  • We suspect that the large volume of leases expiring on 12/31 each year is unique to GSA, which often extends leases on a short term basis while it attempts to complete lease procurements. Lessors, desperate to draw the line somewhere, typically cap such extensions at the end of the calendar year. In fact, relatively few GSA leases actually commenced on 1/1 because New Year’s Day is, of course, a federal holiday. Therefore, we can conclude that GSA’s most common lease expiration date is the product primarily of short-term extensions.
  • Most leases expire on the last day of the month (typically the 30th or the 31st and, in the case of February, the 28th or 29th). Though GSA’s policy is to commence leases at any time, as a practical matter the agency’s Contracting Officers tend to establish start dates on the first day of a month and, some number of years later, end dates on the last day of a month. It’s administratively expedient and, if nothing else, it eliminates the hassle of prorating rent.
  • What is more unusual is that the second most common expiration date is the 14th (see “Day of Lease Expirations” graph below). Why is that? Here we get to something that is purely governmental: GSA pays rent in arrears and any lease that commences on or before the 15th will be paid at the end of that same month. But any lease that commences after the 15th will be paid at the end of the following month (this policy is outlined in the General Clauses attached to your lease). It’s likely, therefore, that the unusual volume of leases expiring on the 14th is the product of an effort among GSA’s contracting officers (possibly prodded by lessors) to get leases in place before the monthly rent cut-off.
  • Contrary to the observation above, an elevated number of leases expire on the 15th too. These would generally have commenced on the 16th–immediately after the cut-off date–and perhaps that is by design.
  • Generally speaking, the number of lease expirations increases throughout the year (see “Month of Lease Expirations” graph below). I have no idea why this occurs except to observe that the trend is probably similar in the private sector too. It seems like annual leasing activity is usually backloaded.
  • December is the month in which most leases expire–no shocker for the reasons outlined above. Yet, a close second to December is September. September is the end of the federal government’s fiscal year and it is not entirely uncommon for fiscal year budgeting to influence the leasing cycle.
  • July 3rd is a very special date. Not a single lease expires on July 3rd, presumably because that would indicate a lease commencement of July 4th. Independence Day is truly sacrosanct. More so, it turns out, than Christmas.

Day of Lease Expirations

Month of Lease ExpirationsIf you see any other trends, post your comments below!

2015: The Year of Rising Interest Rates?

Fed Funds Rate Targets

This chart, presented with the September 2014 meeting of the Federal Reserve Bank’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), provides each member’s forecast of the federal funds rate. Each shaded circle indicates the value (rounded to the nearest 1/8 percentage point) of an individual member’s judgment of the midpoint of the appropriate target range for the federal funds rate or the appropriate target level for the federal funds rate at the end of the specified calendar year or over the longer run.

Over the last few months, many economists have been arguing that the U.S. economy has stabilized overall to the point that it would benefit from a hike in interest rates, allowing creditors to earn more while forcing borrowers of dollars to pay more for the privilege. So insistent have these arguments been, in fact, that many investment strategists and bankers believe that it’s not a matter of if but when in 2015 that interest rates will rise, some saying March 1, some May 1, some June 1—but no later.

An early signal that this rise was imminent came in November, when, as the Washington Post reported, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and New York Fed President William Dudley both let slip that the Fed was preparing to raise rates off the zero-point floor that has been in place for the last six years, the start of the Great Recession. “For the United States, the start of the normalization of U.S. monetary policy will be a very welcome development,” noted Dudley in his prepared remarks.

Allowing that the move might cause temporary turbulence in the financial markets, Dudley also argued that in the longer term a rise in interest rates would improve financial stability overall. Some economists note that that period of turbulence could result directly from a spike in the cost of the dollar in overseas markets, inhibiting a now healthy foreign exchange market. However, argues Philadelphia Fed President Charles Prosser, the zero-point floor is itself an agent of instability. “Raising rates sooner rather than later … reduces the chance that inflation will accelerate and require policy to become fairly aggressive with perhaps unsettling consequences,” he urges.

For all Yellen and Dudley’s signaling that rates may rise soon, the Fed has been careful in its approach. In its December meeting, it simply noted that its former insistence that rates would be kept at a zero floor for a “considerable period” would give way to the possibility of a policy change after patient consideration. Said Fed Chair Yellen, “The statement that the committee can be patient should be interpreted as meaning that it is unlikely to begin the normalization process for at least the next couple of meetings,” meaning that any raise would probably not come before May 2015.

The markets responded favorably to the decision, although analysts are divided whether the 1.5 percent rise that followed the Fed meeting was an expression of relief that rates would not rise immediately or the beginnings of a run-up to be followed by a rollercoaster fall when the rise is announced. “Expect market volatility when the central bank drops its cautious tone as it paves the way for the first rate rise since the great recession,” notes the British paper The Guardian in its forecast for 2015, predicting that the ongoing uncertainty in the Eurozone and China will be to the dollar’s advantage.

The Fed predicts that 2015 will otherwise see moderate growth in the economy overall, fueled in part by lower gas prices, with little appreciable inflation and continued expansion in the job market. As for the bond market, the Financial Times encourages investors to be cautious in trying to time any move by the central bank to hike the interest rate. It’s to be noted, after all, that this time last year the smart money was on interest rates to rise in 2014—and as 2014 enters history, rates have remained at historic lows, driven south by some unexpected hiccups in the economy last year. Even if the Fed raises the rate in 2015, most analysts believe that it will be only by a point or two.

It is beyond the scope of this blog to hazard a prediction as to whether the Federal Funds Rate will actually rise and when it may do so. It seems that every expert has been wrong on this at one time or another in recent years. Nonetheless, the chatter around this subject seems to be increasingly bullish on a rate hike next year. Regardless of what occurs, the anticipation of a rising rates has been enough to influence the market for government-leased properties, especially those that are held as higher-yielding alternatives to long-term U.S. Treasuries.

With so much distress in the global and domestic capital markets, combined with ultra-low interest rates, the cap rate valuations of “safe haven” federal properties have benefitted greatly, despite the fact that the underlying rents typically do not escalate through the term. Now the looming shift back to higher rates has property owners feeling a bit more urgency in their evaluation of whether to cash-in or to refinance. Some of this capital markets activity has already begun and we expect this next year to be especially active both for investment sales and debt and equity placements.

Net Demand Has Peaked (at least for now)

GSA Lease Inventory Trend

You may have to squint to see it in the graph above but the federal lease inventory controlled by GSA has declined by a little more than a million square feet over the past year. This should be no surprise because in 2012 OMB issued its “Freeze the Footprint” memorandum making it clear that the federal real estate inventory would be capped at the level established in that fiscal year. That same policy memorandum encouraged inventory reduction as well.

Though the reduction we see in the graph appears quite modest (roughly one-half of one percent of the total lease inventory) it is more foreboding because the decline is occurring despite the fact that most agencies have been forced to relinquish their independent or delegated leasing authority to GSA. As an example, the SEC no longer leases space independently. As each of its 2+ MSF of leases expire they are transferred to GSA control. So, all other things being equal, we would expect GSA’s lease inventory to grow. Yet, clearly it isn’t.

The lease inventory is expected to become even smaller. That’s because most procurements in the works now are programmed for less space. GSA has been slow to implement these space reductions, more often kicking the can with short-term lease extensions. Yet, new leases will eventually be executed and the downsizing will occur. Even if the government lifts the cap on federal leasing, the next tranche of executed leases will serve to reduce the inventory further.

We see this trend continuing for at least the next couple of years but, if history is any guide, it should eventually reverse itself.  The GSA lease inventory has grown 400% since 1970.

Insuring Against Terrorism: With a Senator’s Parting Shot, a Bill Is Blocked

As of December 31, 2014, U.S. insurance companies will no long provide coverage against acts of terrorism, and neither will the U.S. government back them in doing so.

Those are the likely immediate effects of Congress’s failure to extend the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), blocked on December 16 in the Senate after outgoing Senator Tom Coburn (R.–OK) demanded changes to a provision authorizing multistate agency licensing.

TRIA was enacted in 2002 after private insurance companies refused to underwrite against acts of terrorism, fearing that there would be an increase in such crimes in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. It required insurance companies to pay out the first $100 million in damages caused by any such terrorist action, whereafter the federal government would pay 85 percent of any remaining losses. The provision of that insurance was considered of critical importance to the construction and real estate industries, as well as organized sports and entertainment, on the logic that buildings, sports events, concerts, and the like would make logical targets for our enemies.

TRIA has been twice reauthorized after 2002, and over the life of the legislation to date the federal government has not had to pay any damages. Observers thus forecast that the current reauthorization would go without a hitch, and indeed it passed through the House the week before by a vote of 417–7 before being blocked in the Senate.

That’s not to say that the House did not debate the bill extensively—so much so in the House Financial Services Committee, in fact, that there was some question about whether reauthorization would even be taken up on the floor.

Early iterations of the House and Senate versions of the bill, which went through committee this summer, differed in several respects, some substantial. The House bill would have reauthorized TRIA for five years, the Senate for seven; the House bill would have raised the floor from $100 million to $500 million in the case of “conventional attacks,” those that were not nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological in nature. The House bill would also reduce federal government payouts to 80 percent rather than the current 85 percent. Finally, it mandated a certification process whereby the attorney general, secretary of treasury, and secretary of homeland security would issue a declaration that a given event was the result of terrorism within 15 days of its occurrence.

Like the House version, the Senate bill included provision for the establishment of a National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB), which would allow agents and brokers to apply to a central clearinghouse, administered by state insurance commissioners, that would in turn streamline multistate licensing. The insurance industry reportedly favored the Senate version, especially after certain provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act were exempted, allowing energy and agricultural companies and other “end users” to use derivatives as a hedge. Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Charles Schumer (NY) publicly opposed the Dodd-Frank exclusion but voiced approval for the reauthorization of TRIA.

In the end, the House bill as passed had a threshold of $200 million, not $500 million, and extended TRIA for six years, not five. The Senate version, which had been revised to reflect changes in the House version, was held up as the Senate met in the final week before the Christmas recess. Senator Coburn led the opposition, demanding that a provision be added to allow states to opt out of the multistate licensing system.

Senator Coburn’s refusal to allow a floor vote to be held means that reauthorization of TRIA now must await the incoming Congress. Analysts believe that legislative approval will be forthcoming, though when it will appear on the calendar remains to be seen. Meanwhile, although the White House has voiced opposition to the Dodd-Frank exclusion, there is no indication that the reauthorization as it is now written runs the risk of a veto. We look to Capitol Hill for the next steps in reinstituting a law that, as of this writing, will expire in just two weeks.

Consolidations, Closings, and the US Postal Service

The Nat King Cole Post Office in Los Angeles is for sale for $8.3 million.

The Nat King Cole Post Office in Los Angeles is for sale for $8.3 million.

This is not a good time to consider embarking on a career as a letter carrier‚ especially not for someone living in a small town where not much mail comes down the chute. Neither is it a good time to be a senior postmaster, since, come January 9th, postmasters around the country will be affected by a sweeping reduction in force (RIF). About half of the thousands projected to be on the chopping block are eligible, by federal rules, for some sort of retirement benefit, but others will simply be put out to pasture—in theory, to be replaced by much less expensive hourly workers, though the projected savings are fast being whittled down as various union arbitration scenarios play out, all of them likely to raise the cost of those workers.

A final bit of bad news for the US Postal Service comes from its reckoning that in fiscal year 2014, it lost $5.5 billion—news balanced to some extent by a $1.4 billion profit earned from sales and managing what in the parlance of Washington is called “controllable cost.”

There are silver linings in the thoroughgoing program of belt-tightening for private investors, for even further trimming is likely to occur after the new Republican-dominated, privatization-inclined Congress is seated. In this climate, we are likely to see a significant number of postal properties on the block.

As of 2012, the USPS, as the Wall Street Journal reports, “owned 197 million square feet of space in 8,606 buildings … and it leased an additional 81 million square feet across 24,000 properties. In the new wave of cost-cutting, many of those owned structures would be sold, and nationwide, more than 600 buildings have already been earmarked for sale.

In California, for example, the USPS has slotted a couple of dozen large facilities and numerous smaller ones for sale, part of a program that is intended to trim some $20 billion from operational costs in the next three years. One structure in downtown Los Angeles is on the market for $8.3 million, while two in Fresno are listed at a combined $2.9 million.

These sales are not without controversy. In Berkeley, the USPS has been attempting to sell its main facility for more than a year, an effort stymied by a lawsuit joined by the city government and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The suit argues that the USPS has failed to observe federal historic preservation laws in establishing limits to the sale: a buyer, that is to say, will have to observe the laws affecting historic structures, not tear the old building down.

There is room, of course, under the preservation statutes for a buyer to make it over for uses such as condos—which is just happened in Modesto when the old post office there was converted to loft spaces. In just that way, outside California, the old downtown post office in Dallas, Texas, was converted into a luxury apartment building, while other post offices in Kansas and North Dakota have become office or commercial spaces.

A hearing on the Berkeley post office is scheduled to take place on December 11, and the outcome will be of interest to a broad audience well beyond the Bay Area. Meanwhile, a bill sponsored by Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Tom Coburn (R.-Okla.) will grant the USPS relief from the burdensome retirement prepayment obligations that have hampered it for years, the source of a good part of that multibillion-dollar loss.

In exchange, however, USPS will be required to undertake such cost-saving measures as eliminating Saturday delivery and replacing house-by-house delivery with multiresidential curbside mailboxes. That bill faces considerable opposition, and at this writing there is substantial support within the lame-duck Senate for a general moratorium on postal closings and the sale of USPS buildings. All these matters are likely to be visited and revisited soon after the new congressional session begins.

Another Big Reason for the Pile-Up


(The graph above is interactive, pull the slider located above the column chart)

We have published a few articles on this blog about the stunning pile-up of lease expirations in GSA’s national lease inventory and the reasons that have contributed to it, including Freeze the Footprint, downsizing mandates, budget distress and the effects of partisan gridlock.

Yet, there is another really simple, if mysterious, reason for the dramatic pile-up of lease expirations: 2009. For some reason (and, so far, no one I’ve quizzed at GSA or elsewhere can recall exactly how or why this occurred) there has long been an unusually large volume of leases queued-up for expiration in the year 2009. This wasn’t apparent to us until we went back and looked at a table of GSA lease data we had received from the year 2000. From that vantage point, looking forward to the ensuing years, it was apparent that 2009 was going to be an unusually big year for expirations (see graph below for the lease expirations forecast as of FYE 2000).

FYE2000

To better understand how the year 2009 contributed to the pile-up, we put together a simple study in the interactive graph at the top of this article. We took lease expiration data from the end of each fiscal year from 2000 through 2014. Using each year’s data we created a column chart showing the lease expirations trend going forward from that year. If you move the slider all the way to the left, you will see that the level of lease expirations in 2009 stands tall, even from the perspective of FYE 2000. Advancing through the data sets (FYE 2001, FYE 2002, etc.) you begin to see the volume of lease expirations in 2009 increase, which is logical due to shorter-term leases and renewals executed in the intervening years that roll forward to 2009 expiration dates. As 2009 moves closer, the volume of lease expirations grows even larger due to kick-the-can extensions and holdovers (we call this effect the “Bow Wave”).

By the eve of 2009, more than 31 MSF of leases are scheduled to expire in that year–a towering wall of lease expirations. This volume was clearly beyond GSA’s capacity and so it is clear that an ever-greater volume of leases continued to roll forward on short term extensions (or holdovers), further exacerbating the trend in the years following 2009. Though the largest single-year expirations spike–34.8 MSF in 2012–has now been whittled down a bit, from where we sit today a breathtaking 100.3 MSF (half of GSA’s total inventory) is set to expire in the next five years.

SUMMARY

If the interactive at the top of this article doesn’t work for you, here are the highlights:

FYE 2000: From this vantage point, lease expirations slated for the fiscal year 2009 totaled 20.6 MSF, more than twice the average lease expirations for the years preceding it.

FYE2000

FYE 2008: By this point, lease expirations expected for 2009 had grown to 31.7 MSF due to renewals that occurred in prior years and also short-term extensions and holdovers.

FYE2008

FYE 2011: Because of GSA’s inability to keep up with the ever-growing leasing volume, expirations increased to their peak of 34.8 MSF in 2012.

FYE2011

FYE 2014: Recent data demonstrates that GSA has whittled down some of the pile-up of near-term lease expirations, though one-quarter of the inventory is still due to expire in the next two years and one-half of the inventory will expire in the next five years.

FYE2014

Colliers Releases Its Q3 2014 North American Office Report

US Office Trend

Colliers International has just released its 3Q 2014 North America Office report. It notes that office demand is improving and the United States is on pace this year to create the most jobs since 1999. Further, office-using employment growth, at 2.8%, was even stronger than overall job growth. This was assisted by recovery in the FIRE sector. Indicative of the broadening economic and office market recoveries, just 15 of the 84 U.S. metro areas tracked by Colliers lost office-using jobs year-over-year in August 2014. Previous laggards such as Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Phoenix and Jacksonville were among the strongest markets for office-using job growth. This has fueled net demand for office space, causing the U.S. vacancy rate to decline to 13.5%, the lowest since Q2 2008.

To read more, click here.