Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 77 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published Feb. 22, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.
New York City’s economic recovery index had another positive week, with the score increasing from 81 to 82 for the week ended Feb. 12. The index score is now at the same level as it was the week of Dec. 18, 2021 before the omicron wave swept through the U.S. COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to fall, subway ridership and restaurant reservations rose higher, and while there were slight dips in the rental vacancy and home sales rates, these two measures remain the best recovered in the index. Unemployment claims continued to stabilize as well.
A new plan to address public safety and homelessness on the subway begins this week in New York City. The Subway Safety Plan, announced by Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul on Friday, will bring together 30 joint response teams made up of members from the Department of Homeless Services, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the NYPD, and community-based providers to enforce the MTA’s rules of conduct and provide mental health and medical services to those experiencing homelessness. “The subway system and the bus system, they are the lifeblood of our city,” said Adams. “If we don’t get them right, our city won’t continue to recover from COVID,” he added.
New York City’s recovery stands at a score of 82 out of 100, according to the New York City Recovery Index, a joint project between Investopedia and NY1. Nearly two years into the pandemic, NYC’s economic recovery is over four-fifths of the way back to early March 2020 levels.
COVID-19 Hospitalizations Fall Further
COVID-19 hospitalization rates continued to decline for the fourth week in a row as of Feb. 12, with the seven-day average now at 94 hospitalizations, which is 46 fewer than last week. However, the rate of decline slowed this week compared to the previous two weeks, and has not returned to pre-omicron levels yet. A 33% decline in the rolling average would still be required to reach that point.
All new COVID-19 cases in the area can be attributed to the omicron variant, with the CDC projecting100% of new cases in the New York region (along with New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) are related to omicron. A total of 2,272,909 cases and 39,644 deaths were recorded in New York City as of Feb. 22, while 76.6% of New York State’s population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to NYC Health data.
Unemployment Claims Stabilize
Unemployment claims fell by 220 claims for the week of Feb. 12, pushing the index score up from 92 to 95. This score now puts the unemployment claims index on level with 2019 rates, meaning the UI claims rate has effectively recovered and is expected to remain so unless there are significant disruptions to the labor market. There were a total of 6,370 claims in New York City for the week ended Feb. 12, while the rolling average increased by three claims to 6,076 over the same period in 2019.
Home Sales Dip
Pending home sales took a hit for the week of Feb. 12, as the index score dropped to 164. Although home sales actually increased week-over-week by 27 from 577 to 604, a rise in the 2019 rolling average over the same period was greater by comparison, with an increase of 33 sales, which weighed on the index. Despite the setback, home sales are still running hotter than 2019 levels. By borough, Queens soared past Manhattan and Brooklyn with a 112% increase in home sales compared to 2019 levels. Manhattan and Brooklyn followed behind at 56% and 55% above 2019 levels, respectively.
Rental Market Regresses Slightly
The rental market experienced a slight setback, with 12,728 rentals on the market in New York City for the week of Feb. 12, which is 435 fewer than last week. This pushed the index score down from 84 to 82. Though this is a bit of a regression from last week’s increase in available units, the rental market is still one of the best-performing measures in the index, and could be fully recovered if it has a few positive weeks with an increase of about 500 vacancies.
Subway Ridership Makes More Gains
Subway ridership had another positive week as of Feb. 12, with the seven-day trailing average now sitting at 42% below 2019 levels, compared to 48% below just last week. Subway ridership is now considered effectively back to pre-omicron levels, as ridership was plateauing around the 40% level before omicron. As of Feb. 12, the MTA reported a trailing 7-day average of 2.63 million riders.
Other public transportation networks in the New York tri-state area have also made huge gains since the beginning of the year. Ridership for the LIRR went from a seven-day trailing average of 61% below 2019 levels at the start of 2022, to 49% below pre-pandemic levels as of Feb. 17. Meanwhile, Metro-North ridership rose from 62% to 50% below pre-pandemic levels as of Feb. 17. Ridership for bridges and tolls increased as well, with the seven-day trailing average 1% below 2019 levels as of Feb. 17, compared to 12% on Jan. 1, 2022.
Restaurant Reservations Increase
It was another great week for New York City restaurant reservations, which increased from 54% to 49% below 2019 levels this week, crossing the 50% threshold for the first time since Dec. 22, 2021. Another week of similar gains could have restaurant reservations back to where they were before the omicron wave hit. As spring and warmer weather comes over the next few months, restaurants could experience seasonal gains in reservations like those in the spring and summer of last year.