Tracking NYC's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic


The latest reading of the New York City Recovery Index out of a possible score of 100.

New York City’s economic recovery rebounded slightly in the week ending December 3, 2022, with the index score rising one point to 73 out of 100. Gains were driven by a boost in the city’s real estate market, as both home sales and rental availability rebounded from last week’s correction. On the downside, COVID-19 hospitalizations surged, rising to their highest levels since January. Unemployment claims also recorded a sizable increase, rising back above their pre-pandemic rolling average. Subway ridership fell, while restaurant reservations experienced a significant correction downward.

New York City’s economic recovery stands at a score of 73 out of 100, according to the New York City Recovery Index, a joint project between Investopedia and NY1. Over two and a half years into the pandemic, New York City’s economic recovery is just under three-quarters of the way back to pre-pandemic levels.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Skyrocket

The COVID-19 hospitalization rate in New York City surged for the second consecutive week, rising to 198 hospitalizations per day. This is 45 higher than last week, when hospitalizations averaged 153 per day. The current hospitalization rate is the highest since late January, when the initial omicron wave of last winter gripped the city.

The CDC continues to project that 100% of current cases are omicron-related, with the BQ.1 strain accounting for the highest share of cases, at 37% of the total. The BQ.1.1 strain is not far behind, at 36.6% of the total, while the older BA.5 subvariant accounts for 10% of current cases. The share attributed to the newer XBB subvariant fell this week, accounting for just 7.1% of infections.

As of December 12, 80% of New York City residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to NYC Health & Hospitals data. Since the start of the pandemic, over 3.06 million cases and 43,500 COVID-19-related deaths have been recorded in the city.

Over the two-week period leading up to December 2, ICU arrivals at New York City hospitals rose by 18.8%, while the number of patients requiring intubation rose by 14.6%. By comparison, total hospitalizations rose 60% over the same period. The data suggests that more severe cases of COVID-19 haven’t risen as drastically as current hospitalization figures may suggest, with current outbreaks likely more mild than previous waves of the pandemic. At this time last year, there was a greater percentage increase in ICU arrivals, which may foreshadow a smaller winter outbreak compared to last year’s omicron surge.

Unemployment Claims Rebound

This week saw a steep increase in the number of unemployment insurance (UI) claims filed throughout the city. Claims rose by nearly 2,000 from the previous week, totaling 6,740. Meanwhile, the pre-pandemic rolling average of claims, tracking the same week of 2019, rose by only 457 claims to 5,577. As such, UI claims are now 20% above pre-pandemic levels and no longer considered fully recovered. Last week, they were 6% below comparable 2019 levels.

Home Sales Bounce Back

Citywide home sales staged a major rebound for the week ending December 3, following a correction in the previous week. Total home sales rose to 374, exceeding their 2019 rolling average by 6%. As such, the pending home sales subindex is back to a full recovery, after lagging pre-pandemic levels by 23% last week. While the city’s housing market continues to fluctuate, there is no indication yet of any meaningful decline below pre-pandemic levels of activity.

Rental Availability Surges

There were 16,530 residences available for rent during the week ending December 3, over 1,500 units more than last week. As a result, the rental inventory subindex score rose to 97 out of 100, accounting for an unusually large inventory gain for this time of year. This is the best result for the rental inventory subindex since the week ending August 20. As long as inventory remains near or above current levels over the coming weeks, the city’s rental market can be considered fully recovered.

Subway Ridership Dips

Subway ridership experienced a slight decline for the week ending December 3, recording its fourth straight week of minor declines. Ridership fell to 36.6% below its pre-pandemic average, compared to 35.1% down in the previous week. In turn, the subway mobility subindex score fell to 63 out of 100. For the week, the MTA reported an average of 3.09 million daily riderships.

Restaurant Reservations Backtrack

There was a steep decline in reservations at New York City restaurants this week, with the seven-day average dipping to 36.6% below its pre-pandemic average, down from 32.6% last week. The data confirms limited progress for the city’s restaurants in recent weeks, as the holidays have had no positive effect so far on reservation levels. However, the industry is in a slightly better position than at this time last year, when reservations were roughly 41% below pre-pandemic levels.

Research and analysis by
Adrian Nesta
Adrian Nesta, Research Analyst on the Data Journalism team at Dotdash

Adrian Nesta is a Senior Data Reporter on the Data Journalism team at Dotdash, the digital publisher that owns and operates Investopedia. His work includes data collection, cleaning, analysis, and visualization for stories in the data journalism portfolio across every vertical at Dotdash.

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