Total absorption in the Columbia, South Carolina office market surpassed 200,000 square feet during 2006. Absorption totaled 17,836 square feet from January to June of 2006 and increased by more than tenfold to 191,087 during the second half of the year. Even with such a stellar performance in the office market from July to December, we still feel that, over the next few months, the best is yet to come.
The office market climbed from an 81.4% occupancy rate at mid-year 2006 to 84.01% at year-end 2006. This increase is reflective of activity occurring in all submarkets and can be attributed to both the expansion of existing tenants, as well as new arrivals in the market. The market vitality was evident in all classes of office space, with Class A space absorbing 42,623 square feet, Class B space absorbing 80,541 square feet and Class C space absorbing 67,923 square feet of office space over the previous six months.
The job market in Columbia posted positive gains over 2006. Year-over-year changes from October 2005 to October 2006 show that the total employment increased by 2.9% or 10,300 jobs. Among the sectors that affect the office market, the services sector increased by 3.20%, information related jobs experienced an increase of 4.90% and the financial sector grew by 1.10%. With the amount of activity that occurred over the second half of the year, fourth quarter employment numbers, soon to be release, should continue this trend and show greater increases in employment, particularly in the information and financial sectors.
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