The New York City Recovery Index: December 13

Tracking NYC's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic

Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 69 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published December 14, 2021. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.

New York City’s economic recovery index staged a dramatic comeback, rocketing from a score of 71 to 88 for the week ended Dec. 4. The score represents a record high for the index, and the seventh week the index has surpassed 80. A surge in home sales was primarily responsible for carrying the index to new heights, as most other measures experienced setbacks as COVID-19 hospitalization rates in New York continued to rise.

This week, the Supreme Court declined to block New York’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate requirement for health care workers, even when they cite religious objections. Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced vaccine mandates would extend to all private-sector employees in the city. Starting on Dec. 14, parents of children aged 5-11 will also be required to provide proof of their child’s vaccination to bring them to indoor dining, sports, and entertainment facilities. 

New York City’s recovery stands at a score of 88 out of 100, according to the New York City Recovery Index, a joint project between Investopedia and NY1. Over a year and a half into the pandemic, NYC’s economic recovery is just under 90% of the way back to early March 2020 levels.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Climb

COVID-19 hospitalization rates jumped as of Dec. 4, rising to a seven-day average of 69 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, 20 more than the week before. Compared to hospitalization rates at the end of June, the new rate is 250% higher, leaving significant room for improvement before the city returns to lows reached earlier this year.

The CDC continues to project that roughly 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, while 13.1% are linked to the omicron variant. That’s a significant decline in the percentage of cases attributable to delta from the week before, at 99.9%. A total of 1,197,135 cases and 34,992 deaths were recorded in New York City as of Dec. 14. As of Dec. 13, 70.5% of New York State’s population has fully vaccinated against COVID-19, beating projections of reaching 70% by late January, according to CDC data.

Unemployment Claims Relapse

The city’s rate of unemployment claims rose from an estimated 39% to 89% above pre-pandemic levels as of Dec. 4, wiping out most progress over the last few months, after coming close to a full recovery just a few weeks prior. At a time when seasonal hiring was expected to pick up over the holidays, the movement could be a sign of extended setbacks in New York’s labor market. 

Home Sales Soar

The number of pending home sales in New York City skyrocketed up by 176 homes as of Dec. 4, boosting the city’s overall score to a record high. The rise brought sales back above 2019 levels, with the home sales running 117% higher than 2019 rates over the same period. By borough, sales in Manhattan are up 84.3% compared to pre-pandemic levels, while sales figures in Brooklyn are up 44.2%, and Queens is up 59.6%.

Rental Market Expands

After several weeks of declines in the number of available residences on the market, the city’s inventory of available rentals increased by 1,126 units as of Dec. 4, bringing the rental market index up from a score of 79 to 89. There were a total of 14,142 residences on the market compared to 13,016 the week before, alleviating some of the tightness in the NYC rental market that has held it back from achieving a full recovery. 

Subway Ridership Reverses Gains

After reaching its best score since the onset of the pandemic the week before, subway ridership reversed course as of Dec. 4, drifting back to 40% below pre-pandemic levels compared to 37% the week before. It was the first setback in ridership for several weeks, though the rate does tend to fall during the winter months. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) estimated a trailing seven-day average of close to 2.86 million riders on public transport.

Restaurant Reservations Lose Ground

The city’s restaurant reservation index continued to decline as of Dec. 4, falling from 36% to 41% below 2019 levels, according to OpenTable estimates. As average outdoor temperatures begin to drop, it is typical for reservation numbers to fall. However, sustained losses could erase the city’s progress over the past few months, as hospitalizations rise and the city continues to enforce pandemic-related restrictions.

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  1. NYC Health. "Total Data."

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