Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 19 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published Nov. 30, 2020. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.

48.3

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

New York City’s economic recovery suffered a blow during the week of Nov. 21 as every facet of the index declined. The most significant losses week-over-week occurred amid a spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations, a drop in home sales, and another decrease in restaurant reservations.

New York City’s recovery stands at just 48.3 out of a total score of 100, according to the New York City Recovery Index, a joint project between Investopedia and NY1. The index dropped by 3 points from the prior week, marking the lowest reading since Oct. 26. More than nine months into the pandemic, New York City’s economic recovery is less than halfway back to early March 2020 levels.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Continue to Climb

NYC saw a sizable increase in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations for the week of Nov. 21 with an average of 100 hospitalizations per day, up from the 67 average daily hospitalizations the prior week. This was the highest weekly average recorded since May 16 as cold weather and relaxed social-distancing practices have brought in a new wave of COVID-19 cases. New York City recorded 317,000 total COVID-19 cases and 24,274 deaths as of Nov. 30.

Despite the surge in cases, Mayor Bill deBlasio said public schools will begin a phased reopening as early as Dec. 7, starting with elementary and special education students. That’s an about-face from a decision he announced the prior week to close all schools until New York’s percentage of positive cases fell below 3%. On Monday, Governor Cuomo announced five strategies to manage increased COVID cases as hospitalizations rise.

The rising number of cases comes as many Americans visited friends and family for Thanksgiving. Experts fear the increased travel could amplify COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations going forward. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned the U.S. may see “surge upon surge” of the virus in the weeks ahead. The rising case numbers could be an important factor in people’s future holiday travel and shopping plans.

Unemployment Claims Reverse Trend in Ascent

The number of initial unemployment claims has increased last week, reversing the downward trend seen since September. During the week of Nov. 21, New Yorkers filed 1,266 more unemployment insurance claims compared to the previous week. Moreover, the number of first-time claims is still 299% higher than the same period last year. The number of future unemployment claims will largely hinge on how long and widespread potential future shutdowns in New York are due to COVID-19.

Pending Home Sales Fall

Pending home sales, or homes in contract, dipped during the week of Nov. 21, though they are still up 14% year-over-year. Across New York City, 481 homes went into contract during the week of Nov. 21, compared to 494 the previous week, according to data from StreetEasy. Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens all saw decreases for the week. However, each borough is still up 20%, 11%, and 1%, respectively, compared to the same period last year. 

Rental Listings Drop

While we have yet to include apartment rental prices in the index, the decline in rental listings reflects a small movement toward recovery in New York City’s struggling economy. According to StreetEasy, there were 74,192 apartments available for rent at the end of October, compared to 74,685 the previous month. Nonetheless, the number of available rentals is still up 96% from the same time last year, showing that more and more people are eager to leave the city. 

New York City also fell out of the top 10 cities with the most expensive zip codes, according to PropertyShark. Not a single New York City zip code cracked the top 10 in PropertyShark’s 2020 report of the 100 most expensive U.S. zip codes, a first since the company began tracking median sales in 2015.

Subway Ridership Remains Stagnant

Subway ridership remained relatively stagnant compared to the previous week at 1.5 million riders for the week of Nov. 21, down 63% year-over-year, according to data from the MTA. The MTA is currently facing a $6.1 billion funding shortfall for 2021, well more than a third of next year’s $16.1 billion budget, largely due to decreased ridership. The agency is holding a series of virtual hearings to discuss several ideas about how to raise MTA fare and toll revenue — including implementing a "flat fare" for LIRR trips made between Long Island and New York City. The agency has previously threatened to curtail service, lay off employees, and eliminate monthly metrocards if it does not receive aid in the near future.

Restaurants See Decline in Patronage

Restaurant reservations dipped slightly during the week of Nov. 21 as the estimated number of seated diners was down 81% compared to last year, a decline from the previous week’s 77%, 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.