Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 36 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published April 14, 2021. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.
New York City’s economic recovery declined in the week ended April 3, bringing the index to its lowest level in more than a month. The decrease was driven by a drop in home sales and an increase in unemployment claims. The city is continuing its vaccine rollout, and the vaccination rate will be a crucial component of the city’s economic recovery. Most recently, health officials halted the use of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine after reports of blood-clotting issues in six women. Nonetheless, the White House said the pause "will not have a significant impact" on the nationwide vaccine plan.
New York City’s recovery stands at 52.3 out of a total score of 100, according to the New York City Recovery Index, a joint project between Investopedia and NY1. The index decreased nearly 5.1 points from the prior week. More than one year into the pandemic and New York City’s economic recovery is still only a little more than halfway back to early March 2020 levels.
Covid-19 Hospitalizations Decrease
The number of New York City COVID-19 hospitalizations decreased modestly as the nation continued its fight against the virus. New York City reported an average of 228 hospitalizations per day for the week of April 3, down from the 257 average daily hospitalizations the previous week. Nonetheless, the seven-day average still sits at a level similar to what was seen in December. New York City recorded a total of 891,000 cases and 31,887 deaths as of April 14.
Case numbers will be an important factor to watch as vaccine distribution continues throughout the state. New York has so far administered 12.6 million doses statewide, according to the CDC.
More than 33% of eligible adults have received both vaccine doses in New York, according to VeryWell Health. The state is projected to have enough vaccines for all of its adult population by June 12 and is on pace to achieve 70% vaccination by that month, placing it 10th out of the 59 U.S. states, municipalities, and territories.
Unemployment Continues to Climb
Unemployment numbers for New York City have increased for the third consecutive week during the week of April 3, when approximately 26,000 New Yorkers filed for unemployment, a week-over-week increase of 6,500. This was more than five times the number of people who filed for unemployment during the same period in 2019. Claims are back to the level seen in mid-January, though the number is still well below the 579,146 people who filed for unemployment during the first week of the pandemic.
Unemployment numbers will likely only significantly drop after the city’s vaccination rate rises and businesses are able to fully reopen. The city will likely see significantly more people vaccinated now that New York expanded vaccine eligibility to all residents ages 16 and above on April 6.
Home Sales Dip
During the week of April 3, the percentage of pending home sales, or homes in contract, decreased week-over-week. There were 625 home sales during the week of April 3, compared to 731 the week prior, representing a smaller year-over-year percentage increase (45%) compared to the previous week (70%), according to data from StreetEasy.
Nonetheless, the home buying market is still red hot in New York City and is significantly above 2019’s level. As New Yorkers moved to the suburbs in 2020, homes in the New York metro area were in greater demand, according to a study by New York City’s Department of City Planning. Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens all had year-over-year sales increases of 37%, 42%, and 20%, respectively (though this is a drop from the previous week’s high).
Rental Market Continues to Improve
New York City’s rental market continues to be more negatively impacted by the pandemic than the housing market, but the percentage of units available to rent is still declining week-over-week. The number of rental vacancies in New York City declined week-over-week to 30,875 during the week of April 3, from 31,929 the week prior, according to data from StreetEasy. This drop pushed the index score up three points to 58, the highest level so far this year.
As New York City continues its economic recovery, it will be important to watch the rental market to see if people return to the city after relocating to the suburbs during the height of the pandemic.
Subway Ridership Falls
Subway ridership dropped for the first time in over two months during the week of April 3. The rolling seven-day average was approximately 66% less than the average during the same period in 2019. The MTA reported that just over 1.7 million New York City riders used public transport during the week of March 27, down from 1.8 million the week prior.
Despite this week’s decline, the overall number of riders appears to be consistently increasing at the usual rate for this time of year when the seasons transition from winter to spring. Nonetheless, the raw figure is still significantly lower from pre-pandemic usage. However, the MTA is hopeful as it hit a significant milestone on April 9: 2 million subway riders for the first time since COVID-19 hit New York.
Restaurants Reservations Stagnant
Restaurant reservations were relatively flat during the week of April 3, causing the index measure to drop one point to 24. The estimated number of seated diners was 75% lower than the same period in 2019, according to data from OpenTable.
Despite the week-over-week stagnation, restaurants have seen a steady climb in visitors since February, according to data from Zenreach. Restaurant visits were at 43% in March, up slightly from 41.54% in February and a significant jump from January when restaurants only saw visitors coming in at a rate of 6.25%.
New York City restaurants are currently limited to 50% indoor capacity, while the rest of the state is limited to 75% capacity for indoor dining. Future reservations in the city will depend largely on an increase in the vaccination rate, a decline in COVID-19 cases, and warmer weather.