The Good: NYC Leisure Activities Seeing Notable Revival
Kicking off our first edition of the New York City Economic Tracker, let’s begin with some good news. This week, we’ve chosen to focus on Broadway attendance and visits to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, two of the most popular tourism destinations in New York City. We also highlight the city’s restaurant industry, which continues to make up lost ground from the pandemic. New York City’s economic tracker is a joint project between Investopedia and NY1.
Attendance at Broadway shows—a staple of New York City’s entertainment scene—has recovered nicely throughout 2022, after beginning the year nearly 40% below its pre-pandemic average. As of December, average weekly attendance at Broadway shows was just 8% below its pre-pandemic average, according to data provided by The Broadway League.
Visitations to the iconic Statue of Liberty monument and Ellis Island have also surged, particularly since November, and are now just 6% below their pre-pandemic average tracking the equivalent 2015-2019 period. This compares to 17% down as recently as November.
Dining at New York City restaurants has also risen, albeit not as quickly. After a slow and steady climb throughout 2022, restaurant reservation levels were just over 30% below their pre-pandemic rolling average in December—their best figure since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, according to OpenTable data. The week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day was particularly busy for the city’s restaurants.
The Bad: Subway Ridership and Office Attendance Have Stalled
Now onto the bad news, where we track some of the worst-performing areas of New York City’s economy. Office attendance, subway ridership, and home sales are three measures that have underperformed in recent months.
As of December 2022, office attendance in New York City was still 57% below its pre-pandemic average, according to key swipe data provided by building security company Kastle Systems. This means that, for a given day of the workweek, NYC offices were still over half empty. The trend is not showing any signs of improvement, as office attendance declined from November 2022, when it averaged 55.2% of the pre-pandemic level.
Depressed office attendance could signal a more permanent shift in work preferences since the start of the pandemic. Fewer than expected employees have returned to the office full-time, with most preferring to work hybrid or fully remote schedules.
Subway ridership has fared only slightly better. While not as depressed, ridership on the MTA subway was still nearly 40% below pre-pandemic levels, as of December 2022. Ridership stagnated in the last four months of 2022, and achieved minimal gains for the year.
NYC Home Sales Plummet
Against the backdrop of rising mortgage rates and a slowing national housing market, home sales in New York City have plummeted in recent months. As of November 2022, home sales for all types of residences throughout the New York Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) were down a stunning 27.4% year-over-year. They began 2022 with annual gains of roughly 10%. Sales of townhouses, which were still positive on an annual basis through September, have nosedived in recent months and are now down nearly 33% year-over-year.