In response to economic distress brought on by COVID-19, Congress passed the $2 trillion CARES Act in March to help Americans weather the storm—a stimulus package unprecedented in size. If an agreement is reached by Congress, a second relief bill could bring an additional $1 trillion to $2 trillion in economic support, though its prospects for passage are uncertain.

The significant increase in government spending, coupled with the upcoming presidential election in November, has prompted CBRE Research—in partnership with the Georgetown University Steers Center for Global Real Estate—to examine how the federal government influences office demand in the Washington, D.C. region.

A uniquely “essential” economy, the D.C. metro area is largely influenced by the government sector, which accounts for 23% of the region’s GDP and employment, as well as 28% of total office leasing activity. Additionally, many private-sector industries across the region, such as federal contractors, law firms and not-for-profit organizations, are closely tied to government activity. Understanding how the federal government affects office demand is key to projecting the outlook of the overall market.