New York City Recovery Index: October 26

Tracking NYC's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic

Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 14 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published Oct. 26, 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.

A rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations, and declines in real estate sales and subway usage pushed The New York City Recovery Index lower over the past week to register a 48 out of a possible 100. After surpassing 50 last week for the first time since the pandemic began, the city’s recovery has been stuck near the midway point since August.

The index, a joint project between Investopedia and NY1, saw a week-over-week decline of 6.8 points, mainly due to slowing pending home sales around the city and a decline in residents dining out. Lower than expected first-time unemployment claims was a lone bright spot in the city’s economy last week, but layoffs are still near historically high levels.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Creep Upward

Daily hospitalizations for COVID-19 reached 49 per day on average last week, an increase from 45 per day the week prior. While the New York statewide positivity rate hovers at 1.45%, hot spots around the city peaked as high as 3.25%. To date, of the 496,655 New York State residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, 258,979 live in the city. 

Unemployment Claims Decline

In a positive trend, first time unemployment claims dropped last week after rising in the two weeks prior. The week of October 17 saw 31,971 new unemployment claims, which was nearly 7,000 fewer than the previous week. Unfortunately, claims are still over six-times higher than the same week in 2019. Job losses remain primarily in industries that once defined the city’s booming tourism-driven economy—restaurants, hotels, theaters and bars.

Pending Home Sales Decline

Pending home sales tumbled from last week’s high, but still indicate demand for properties around the city. 429 homes went into contract last week. Queens saw the biggest increase as 95 pending sales were recorded, according to StreetEasy. That’s a 46% increase from the same period a year ago. Pending sales in Brooklyn increased by 12%, while Manhattan sales were on par with the same period last year.

Rental Prices Tumble

The median asking rent for an apartment in Manhattan fell below $3,000 a month for the first time since 2011, according to StreetEasy. Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens all recorded year-over-year rent declines for the first time in a decade as vacancies climbed and tenants either broke or chose not to renew leases. Meanwhile, rental inventory in Manhattan has increased by nearly 70%, with 72,267 listings available during the third quarter, up nearly 30,000 units from last year. While not yet weighed into the overall Recovery Index, the weakness in the rental market has been a trend since this summer that continues to weigh on the city’s overall economic health.

Subway Ridership Declines Slightly

Subway ridership is down 68% from this time last year, and dropped 1.6 points in the past week. Even though many public students return to school on a blended basis, most office workers are still working from home and many businesses remain closed. While ridership has increased since August, it has leveled off in the Fall, especially in the past two weeks.

Restaurants See Declines

Restaurant reservations declined slightly from the previous week, according to OpenTable, and remain down 78% from last year. Despite indoor dining’s partial reopening, the fall chill and lingering concerns over safety may be keeping would-be outdoor diners away. As winter weather approaches and restaurants are forced to make outdoor dining a year-round attraction or face closure, more government intervention may be required to keep many of New York City’s remaining restaurants afloat. Since March 2020, over 1,000 NYC restaurants have permanently closed their doors.

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