Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 52 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published August 17, 2021. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.
New York City’s economic recovery index made slight progress as of August 7, bringing its score back to 76 from 75, effectively where it was two weeks ago. A reduction in unemployment claims was primarily responsible for the index’s gains, though COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to climb. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, New York City is still considered a "high" or "substantial" COVID transmission area.
In response to the city’s rise in cases, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the “Key to NYC” vaccine mandate would take effect on Aug. 17, requiring New Yorkers to show a physical or digital copy of a COVID-19 vaccination card to access indoor entertainment and exercise facilities like restaurants, bars, and gyms. Business owners will be tasked with enforcing the new rules, and a multi-agency coalition will begin enforcement on September 13. After September, fines for violations could start at $1,000 and reach up to $5,000 for repeat offenses.
New York City’s recovery stands at a score of 76 out of 100, according to the New York City Recovery Index, a joint project between Investopedia and NY1. Over a year into the pandemic, NYC’s economic recovery is now roughly three-quarters of the way back to early March 2020 levels.
COVID-19 Hospitalizations Soar
COVID-19 hospitalizations swelled as of July 31, posting a rolling seven-day average of 74 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, fifteen more than the week prior. Though hospitalizations in the city continue to increase, the pace of growth has slowed from the prior week at an increase of nineteen hospitalizations per 100,000. The CDC projects that over 86.4% of new cases in the New York region (along with New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) are linked to the delta variant. Over the past week, cases breached the millions, with a total of 1,005,908 cases and 33,684 deaths recorded in New York City as of Aug. 17.
As of Aug. 16, New York State has fully vaccinated approximately 58.75% of its broader population, and is on pace to fully vaccinate 70% by October. In a national ranking of state vaccination efforts, New York State came in 14 out of 50 states, districts, and territories, according to VeryWell Health.
Unemployment Claims Fall
The unemployment index in New York City made significant advances as of Aug. 7, as the estimated UI claims rate fell from 74% to 44% above pre-pandemic levels. The change represented one of the best year-on-year declines in unemployment claims in over two months, and may reflect some of the tailwinds of a stronger employment outlook nationwide. However, new restrictions on businesses, including the new “Key to NYC” vaccination requirement for entry to indoor entertainment venues, could affect operations for many businesses, as well as hiring plans.
Home Sales Heat Up
Pending home sales in New York City increased by nine units over the last week, bumping the home sales index score up by one point. Sales as of Aug. 7 were approximately on par with the averages earlier in January and February of this year, though still well above pre-pandemic levels. Sales in Manhattan are up 79% compared to pre-pandemic levels, while Brooklyn is up 68%. Sales in Queens were down 2%, in the first setback the borough has experienced in several weeks.
Rental Vacancies Lose Momentum
New York City’s rental index fell from a score of 98 to just under 93 this week, after coming within two points of a full recovery. While the score declined from last week, it was still one of the highest scores the rental market has reached since just after the onset of the pandemic last March. It was also the seventh straight week the score has stayed above 80. And with September just around the corner, a key month for lease turnovers, the rental market is likely to recover from this week’s losses soon, as renters sign new leases.
Subway Ridership Stagnates
Subway ridership did not budge as of Aug. 7, with the seven-day rolling average stuck at 50% below pre-pandemic ridership. The measure is roughly halfway back to recovery, and has hovered at or near the 50% mark since early July. With several companies in the New York Metro area announcing delays to office reopening plans, subway ridership could take longer than previously anticipated to recover. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) estimated a trailing seven-day average of over 2.2 million riders on public transport.
Restaurant Reservations Wane
Restaurant reservations contracted as of Aug. 7, falling from 49% to 50% below 2019 levels, according to OpenTable estimates. Like subway ridership, restaurant reservations have stagnated around the halfway point to recovery for weeks. Amid a spike in COVID-19 cases, the implementation of new vaccination guidelines, and a delay in office reopenings, restaurants in the city could struggle to make substantial progress over the next few weeks.