Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 16 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published Nov. 9, 2020. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.
The latest reading of the New York City Recovery Index out of a possible score of 100.
More baby steps in New York City’s economic recovery this past week, as real estate sales continued to show strength, while fewer COVID-19 hospitalizations and unemployment claims were reported. Still, New York City is only slightly better than half-way back to pre-pandemic economic strength.
As the pandemic rolls into its eighth month, New York City’s economic recovery stands at 53 out of a total score of 100, according to the New York City Recovery Index, a joint project between Investopedia and NY1.
The index jumped 1.3 points from the prior week, but the progress has been slow and costly. According to the New York City Comptroller, the COVID-19 pandemic and the efforts to contain it have plunged the economy into a deep contraction and led to a sharp drop in tax revenues. At the close of fiscal Q4 2020, the city’s unrestricted cash balance stood at $6.627 billion, the lowest end-of-year cash balance since Q4 2013. The Q4 2020 average cash balance measured $6.627 billion, compared to $7.110 billion during Q4 2019.
COVID-19 Hospitalizations Decline
There was an improvement in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations for the week of Oct. 31, with the 7-day average for the week at 37 hospitalizations per day, down 27.5% from the previous week’s count of 51 daily hospitalizations. This continues the good news that cases have yet to spike following the partial return of public school students in mid-September, though the number of reported cases is increasing. Over the weekend, the city reported a 2% infection rate, the highest in four months, with sharp increases in Staten Island.
Unemployment Continues to Improve
While New York City has one of the highest unemployment rates of any major city in the country at 14.4%, initial weekly claims for unemployment continue to decline. During the week of Oct. 31, 23,239 New Yorkers filed for first-time unemployment claims, which is 5,212 fewer than the previous week. This was the third consecutive week of significant decreases, but claims are still more than four-times higher than they were during the same period last year. Job losses remain primarily in industries that once defined the city’s booming tourism-driven economy — restaurants, hotels, and theaters.
Pending Home Sales Continue to Rise
Pending homes sales, or homes in contract, continue to be a bright spot in the city’s economic recovery. Pending sales were up 30% from the same period last year as 562 homes went into contract, according to data from StreetEasy. Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan lead all borough sales, up 52%, 29%, and 26%, respectively, compared to the same period in 2019.
Rental Market Still Sees Surplus
While we have yet to include apartment rental prices in the index, the declines in prices and the rise in inventory tell a very different tale about the health of New York City’s housing market. According to StreetEasy, there were 74,685 apartments available for rent at the end of September, up 110% from the same time last year, showing that more and more people are eager to leave the city. Nonetheless, this was a slight improvement from August’s count of 75,309. More than half of the available rentals were in Manhattan.
Subway Ridership at a Standstill
Subway ridership remained flat at 1.6 million riders for the week of Oct. 31, down 68% year-over-year, according to data from the MTA. While ridership has increased since the summer, it has leveled off in autumn. The MTA is seeking $12 billion in coronavirus relief from the federal government, however a potentially divided Congress puts that bailout in doubt. For now, the MTA is trying to borrow $3 billion from the Federal Reserve to stop drastic cuts.
Restaurants See Declines
Restaurant reservations took a hit during the week of Oct. 31, potentially due to colder temperatures during the week leading up to Halloween. Reservations were down 79% compared to the same time last year, according to OpenTable. Despite indoor dining’s partial reopening, lingering concerns led more diners to prefer outdoor seating. As winter approaches, more government intervention may be required to keep many of New York City’s remaining restaurants afloat. Since March 2020, more than 1,000 NYC restaurants have permanently shuttered their doors.