New York City Recovery Index: December 7

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.

Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 20 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published Dec. 7, 2020. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.

New York City’s economic recovery remained relatively stagnant during the week of Nov. 28 as rising COVID-19 hospitalizations balanced out the year-over-year increase in home sales and a marginal bump in subway ridership. In addition, the number of weekly unemployment insurance claims climbed again, and restaurant reservations continued to trend lower. 

New York City’s recovery stands at just 48.6 out of a total score of 100, according to the New York City Recovery Index, a joint project between Investopedia and NY1. The index increased by just 0.3 points from the prior week. More than nine months into the pandemic, New York City’s economic recovery is less than halfway back to early March 2020 levels, and most components of the recovery index are heading in the wrong direction.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Still Increasing

NYC hospitalizations continued to climb during the week of Nov. 28, with an average of 117 hospitalizations per day, up from 100 average daily hospitalizations the prior week. This was the highest weekly average recorded since May 16 as cold weather and relaxed social distancing practices brought a new wave of COVID-19 cases to the city. New York City recorded 326,000 total COVID-19 cases and 24,305 deaths as of Dec. 4. The rising number of cases could be an important factor in people’s travel and shopping plans as the holidays near, though it didn’t stop some Americans from traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday. TSA said it screened 1.17 million people on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Unemployment Continues to Increase

The week of Nov. 28 was the second consecutive week in which the number of initial unemployment claims increased since April, reversing the downward trend seen since September. During the week of Nov. 28, New Yorkers filed 2,429 more unemployment insurance claims compared to the previous week. Moreover, the number of first-time claims was 314% higher than the same period last year. 

New York City’s economic crisis is among the worst in the nation, with unemployment at 13.2 percent in October, nearly double the national rate. But, like the rest of the country, the jobless crisis varies widely from borough to borough. Manhattan’s unemployment rate is 10.3%, but in the Bronx, the city’s poorest borough, it is 17.5%. That’s the highest unemployment rate in the state, and among the third highest in the nation behind Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI and El Centro CA.

The U.S. Labor Department reported that the U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November—far fewer than expected, indicating the resurgence of the virus has curtailed hiring and caused job gains to slow. The number of future unemployment claims will largely depend on how long and widespread potential future shutdowns in New York are due to COVID-19, along with how quickly vaccine development and distribution can occur. Meanwhile, the state of California began a two-week lockdown on December 7.

Home Sales Still See Year-Over-Year Rise

Although pending home sales, or homes in contract, dipped during the week of Nov. 28, they were still up 21% year-over-year. Across New York City, 327 homes went into contract during the week of Nov. 21, compared to 481 the previous week, according to data from StreetEasy. This was still an increase over last year’s 269 pending home sales. Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens all saw increases of 35%, 14%, and 13% respectively, compared to the same period last year. 

Average Rental Prices Fall

While we have yet to include apartment rental prices in the index, the declines in prices reflect the struggles New York City’s housing market is facing amid COVID-19. According to MNS Real Estate, the average rental price in Manhattan is $3,543, down 14.55% compared to last year. Year-over-year the average rental price for a non-doorman studio decreased by 11% to $2,166, while the average rental price for a doorman studio dropped 17.46% to $2,849.

Subway Ridership Remains Low, But Trending Positive

Subway ridership remained low during the week of Nov. 28, as ridership was still down 62% from 2019 levels, though this does mark an improvement from 63.7% the week prior.

The total number of subway riders declined week-over-week from 1.5 million to 1.2 million. The MTA is currently facing a $6.1 billion funding shortfall for 2021, largely due to decreased ridership.

Restaurant Reservations Continue to Fall

Restaurant reservations continued to decrease during the week of Nov. 28 as the estimated number of seated diners was down 84% compared to last year, a decline from the previous week’s 81%, according to OpenTable. Continued spikes in COVID-19 and the impending cold weather continue to hamper any future potential gains in reservations. Additionally, uncertainty over potential future shutdown measures and/or stimulus packages could further impede the restaurant industry’s recovery (though stimulus talks last week ended on an optimistic note, with speculation that a bipartisan group of lawmakers might unlock a stimulus agreement and present it in writing soon). 

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