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Update on the South: Office Vacancy Rates, Manufacturing Activity and Employers’ Hiring Plans

The commercial real estate sector and the economy as a whole may not have set the world on fire in 2012, but their largely steady if unspectacular performances were a welcome contrast to the Great Recession of several years ago. Below, we present infographics detailing some important economic indicators in the South as well the results of a survey that asked Southern employers about their hiring plans for the first quarter of 2013.

As you’ll see below, the office vacancy rates in Atlanta and Orlando, while still higher than the national rate, ended the third quarter lower than they were at the start of the year, although Orlando’s did increase slightly during the third quarter.

Meanwhile, the manufacturing sector in the Southeast labored slightly in the latter part of the year, according to the Southeast Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), tabulated each month by the Coles College of Business Econometric Center at Kennesaw State University in metro Atlanta. A score above 50 means the manufacturing sector is expanding, and one below 50 means it’s contracting. In both October and November, the Southeast PMI dipped below 50, in part because of the effects of Hurricane Sandy and anxiety about the “fiscal cliff,” its authors say.

On a brighter note, the employment outlook in the region continues to gradually improve. A quarterly survey of Southern employers conducted by ManpowerGroup, a Fortune 500 workforce consultant, revealed that 17 percent of the respondents planned to add workers in first-quarter 2013, which represented a two percentage-point increase from the survey conducted last year at this time.

Here at Lincoln Property Company Southeast, we’re looking forward to a very active commercial real estate sector in the first half of 2013, as the resolution of the presidential campaign will help bring clarity to most corporate users’ business plans. In the meantime, we hope you and yours enjoy a happy and safe holiday season.