Feds return to offices, boost local economies

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Local news stories across the country are noting the healthy economic effects of the growing number of feds who are again working—at least part of the time—at the office.

Feds are rolling out of their homes and back to their traditional offices and worksites—all part of a hopeful Biden administration push amid lowered pandemic dangers.

COVID, of course, is still with us—and notably ticking up in parts of the Northeast. But hospitalizations and deaths remain down, most feds are vaccinated—and the wider population has been inoculated or previously infected and has significant protection against severe disease. So, for more of us each week, it’s back to commuting.

For many struggling restaurants and leisure businesses, the so-called “Great Return” has been a lifesaver. And in recent days, news stories are exploring the vast economic good done by the return of feds to the downtowns and suburban strips near federal workplaces.

The Windy City, for example, is getting a shot in the arm as laid out in Blockclubchicago news. Hordes of feds have come back to the center of that city—and likely are resuming lunch routines of deep-dish pizza, “Chicago beef” and the fine dining establishments that are all part of its Midwestern charms. The piece notes this is no small thing: double-digit thousands of federal employees belonging to nearly 40 agencies normally work in the area.  

Though the situation isn’t “back to normal” yet, estimates quoted in the story find that as much as half of the normal crush is again thronging the city’s core area of The Loop each weekday.

A similar happy scenario comes from the Huntsville Business Journal in Alabama. In Huntsville—home to much of the federal government’s space technology infrastructure—the return of thousands of feds was not only noted for its tonic effect on the local economy, but also for a rise in worker happiness among those returning to the office (while admittedly less so about resuming the commute itself.)

Additional stories published in recent months likewise cover the local economic implications of government workers’ partial return to traditional worksites in other cities, for example, the Hartford Courant examines Hartford, Conn. and Axios covers that key headquarters of federal work—Washington, D.C.

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