NEW YORK - Leasing volume for Manhattan office space reached a pandemic-era high in July, good news for the hard-hit New York office market, though the amount of space leased was still 11.6% less than the pre-pandemic average in 2019, data showed on Monday.

Leasing activity in Manhattan, the premier U.S. office market, jumped 43% from June and 35% from July 2021 to 3.16 million square feet, brokerage Colliers International Group Inc said in a report.

In other welcome signs for a market still suffering from the pandemic and the rise of remote work, the availability rate for office space tightened 0.2 percentage points to 17%, while absorption was a positive 1.09 million square feet.

Positive absorption indicates that more space was leased than was newly built or put on the market through sublets. Manhattan has been in a construction boom the past decade, boosting the amount of Class A space to the detriment of lesser-quality offices.

Availability has grown by 70% to 91.7 million square feet in Manhattan since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March 2020, Colliers said.

Asking rents slid to $75.43 a square foot last month from $75.61 a square foot in June, but was up from $72.72 a year ago.

Key data on tenant improvement allowances and how that reduces the effective rent was not immediately available.

(Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Mark Porter)