Remote Work Impacts Car Traffic In Seattle

According to new data from the traffic analytics firm INRIX, when compared to pre-pandemic levels, downtown Seattle is seeing less car traffic than most large American cities.

Seattle is still 27% below its pre-pandemic inflow to downtown, a lower rate than four other major cities: Los Angeles; Sacramento, Calif.; Detroit; and San Francisco, which is down 41%.

The data shows every city still sees fewer people driving into their downtowns than in 2019, except for Phoenix and San Diego.

However, a handful of cities, including Denver; Tampa, Fla.; New York; Boston; and Atlanta, are creeping back to those same levels.

Behind Washington, D.C., Seattle had the highest proportion of workers shifting to remote work in 2020 and 2021, at 39%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Much of that is likely because of Amazon, which shuttered its office in the early months of the pandemic, emptying a whole neighborhood overnight.

Downtown Seattle does not include South Lake Union in INRIX’s analysis, so this data does not capture Amazon’s return to in-person work.


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