Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 6 release of the City Economic Recovery Tracker (CERT), originally published Jan. 22, 2021. Visit the CERT homepage for the latest data.
The five cities in The Investopedia City Economic Recovery Tracker (CERT) all faltered in their economic recoveries during the week ending Jan. 9, signaling that the U.S. economic recovery is slowing as the U.S. battles a second wave of post-holiday COVID-19 cases. Los Angeles continues to struggle with outdoor dining restrictions and a high rate of COVID-19 cases, while New York faces high levels of unemployment.
Despite its weekly overall decline of six points, Houston is still experiencing the strongest recovery with a score of 57. Houston and Columbus are the only two cities halfway back to pre-pandemic levels. New York saw the greatest overall weekly change with a decrease of 14 points, joining Los Angeles and Chicago on the bottom tier of the leaderboard with a score of 36.
New York Sees Sharp Increase in COVID-19 Cases
COVID-19 case rates among the five cities have either stagnated or are on the rise, with steady increases in New York City pushing it to the second highest slot among the five cities with an average of 66 new cases per 100,000 people. New York City reported 551,000 COVID-19 cases and 26,331 deaths as of Jan. 22.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles saw its case rate plateau, though it continued to have the highest case rate with an average of 142 new cases per 100,000 people during the week of Jan. 9. Los Angeles County reported 1.05 million COVID-19 cases and 14,641 deaths as of Jan. 22. And both Chicago and Columbus’s case rates had a small bump week-over-week after a month of declines. The coming weeks will be critical in telling if that rise in cases materializes into a trend or is just a weekly aberration.
Vaccine distribution is well underway with 37.96 million vaccines distributed and 17.55 million vaccines administered so far nationwide, according to the CDC. President Joe Biden’s proposed American Rescue Plan hopes to subsidize COVID-19 testing and vaccination programs across the U.S., contributing $160 billion to pay for a national vaccination program that includes increasing COVID-19 testing and manufacturing more protective gear and supplies, among other things.
Chicago, Columbus Face Highest Unemployment Levels
The unemployment claims rates among the five cities have been mixed, with rates rising in New York and Chicago, and falling in Los Angeles, Houston, and Columbus. Nonetheless, the rates for Chicago and Columbus are still two to three times higher than the other cities in CERT.
Future unemployment claims will largely depend on how widespread potential future shutdowns are in the five cities and how quickly vaccine distribution and development can occur. The Biden administration proposed distributing an additional $1,400 in stimulus checks to Americans to help offset the economic burden faced by individuals across the country, in addition to $400 in weekly unemployment checks through next September.
Nearly All Cities Faced Reservation Declines
Nearly every city in CERT faced declines in restaurant reservations during the week of Jan. 9, with Chicago and Columbus erasing most of their gains from the previous two weeks. Los Angeles, meanwhile, continued to see its restaurant index at a score of zero as the city’s outdoor dining ban carried on.
Despite the universal declines, Houston and Columbus are still more than halfway back to early March 2020 levels. However, the restaurant industry continues to struggle across the country as colder weather and rising COVID-19 rates deter patrons. A lack of aid has only exacerbated the problem, restaurateurs say. More than 100,000 restaurants have closed because of COVID-19 nationwide.
Transit Scores Still Falling
Transit numbers were down week-over-week in every city for the week ending Jan. 9, marking the second consecutive week of declines. Columbus and Houston sit at the top of the leaderboard with index scores of 63 and 69, respectively, and are doing markedly better than Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, which are less than halfway to recovery.
Biden’s American Rescue Plan includes $20 billion for the transit industry, meant to provide relief to “the hardest hit public transit agencies” in the nation. This will be in addition to the $14 billion the federal government already set aside in the second stimulus package to aid struggling transit agencies nationwide.
Small Businesses See Drops
The small business index, a previous bright spot in CERT, saw declines for every city during the week of Jan. 9. Columbus had the smallest decline of five points, while the other cities saw decreases of between nine and 15 points each. Columbus is at the top of the leaderboard with a score of 75 has a score of 72, while New York sits at the bottom of the leaderboard with a score of 53.
The Biden administration allocated $440 billion of its American Rescue Plan to communities, including grants and loans for small businesses.
Data by Amanda Morelli/Adrian Nesta. Additional reporting by Elana Dure.