Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 27 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published Feb. 8, 2021. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.
New York City’s economic recovery continued to falter during the week of Jan. 30 as home sales fell further and unemployment claims continued to increase. Despite the overall dip, some index measures, including COVID-19 hospitalizations and rental availability, did improve. New York City’s economic recovery will largely depend on how quickly vaccine distribution and development can occur citywide, as it not only affects COVID-19 case rates, but also unemployment and restaurant reservations.
New York City’s recovery stands at 43 out of a total score of 100, according to the New York City Recovery Index, a joint project between Investopedia and NY1. This marks the lowest index score since the week of Aug. 9. The index decreased 2.3 points from the prior week. Eleven months into the pandemic, New York City’s economic recovery remains less than halfway back to early March 2020 levels, and has been trending lower since the beginning of 2021.
COVID-19 Hospitalizations Continue to Drop
The number of New York City hospitalizations fell for the second consecutive week. During the week of Jan. 30, New York City reported an average of 317 hospitalizations per day, down from 350 average daily hospitalizations the previous week. Nonetheless, the high caseload is still nearly 10 times the figure reported on Aug. 22. New York City recorded a total of 637,000 cases and 27,705 deaths as of Feb. 8.
Case numbers will be an important factor to watch as vaccine distribution continues throughout the country. Johnson & Johnson said it applied for emergency use authorization with the Food and Drug Administration, while Novavax said it started a rolling review of its vaccine candidate by multiple regulatory authorities. Perhaps there will be four vaccine options available in the U.S. in the coming months.
New York has so far administered 2.3 million doses statewide, according to the CDC. The state’s vaccination rate places it at No. 28 among the nation’s 50 states and Washington, D.C., according to VeryWell. About 11.3% of eligible adults have received both vaccine doses in New York.
During the week of Jan. 30, nearly 4,500 more New Yorkers filed unemployment insurance claims compared to the previous week. Approximately 30,285 New Yorkers filed for unemployment during the week of Jan. 30, representing a larger year-over-year percentage increase (396%) compared to the previous week (353%).
The worsening unemployment in New York City comes as the Department of Labor reported that the U.S. economy added 49,000 jobs to the labor market in January in a sign that the nation’s economic recovery is still tepid as it fights the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The leisure and hospitality industry, which includes New York staples like bars, restaurants, and theater, had the steepest decline of 61,000 jobs lost.
The Biden administration’s proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus plan includes distributing an additional $1,400 in stimulus checks to Americans to help offset the economic burden faced by individuals across the country, as well as $400 in weekly unemployment checks through next September. However, Senate Republicans have advanced a smaller stimulus plan that would cut the direct stimulus payments to $1,000. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Biden’s relief plan could restore full employment by 2022.
Home Sales Continue to Drop
During the week of Jan. 30, pending home sales, or homes in contract, dropped for the third consecutive week. Nonetheless, the home-buying market is still stronger than it was a year ago as mortgage rates have remained near all-time lows. There were 520 home sales during the week of Jan. 30, representing a smaller year-over-year percentage increase (27%) compared to the previous week (34%), according to data from StreetEasy. Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens all have year-over-year increases of 28%, 24%, and 38%, respectively.
Specifically, Manhattan’s condo market bounced back after being slammed during the pandemic’s early months, as people look to acquire more spacious homes. New condominium sales rose 21% in January and December compared to the same months a year earlier, according to real estate analytics company UrbanDig.
Rental Market Still Improving
New York City’s rental market continued to see a small improvement as apartment vacancies dropped for the second consecutive week. The number of rental vacancies in New York City dropped week-over-week to 36,937 during the week of Jan. 30, down from 37,986 the week prior, according to data from StreetEasy. Nonetheless, the number of available rental units is still more than 40% greater than what would normally be time of year.
Subway Ridership Decreases
Subway ridership dipped during the week of Jan. 30 as 1.38 million New York City riders used public transport. The rolling seven-day average was approximately 70% less than last year’s average, up from 66% less the prior week, according to data from the MTA. Subway ridership typically increases in the spring in New York City; the gap may become more dramatic if the use of public transportation continues to be hampered due to scheduling and safety concerns due to COVID-19.
Restaurant reservations decreased during the week of Jan. 30, as the estimated number of seated diners was 91% lower than a year ago, compared to 87% lower the previous week, according to data from OpenTable. Reservations are near the lows of late-March and early-April, in large part due to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Dec. 14 restriction on indoor dining. Last month, Cuomo lifted some indoor dining restrictions in other parts of the state, but not in New York City due to population density. The industry is looking to the federal government to provide assistance until normal capacity can resume.