The New York City Recovery Index: December 5

Tracking NYC's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic

New York City skyline looking south towards Lower Manhattan at sunset.
Getty / Amanda Hall / robertharding

Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 118 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published December 6, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.

New York City’s economic recovery experienced a major setback for the week ending November 26, 2022, as the overall index score declined five points to 72 out of 100, from 77 in the previous week. Losses were driven by steep declines in home sales and rental inventories, capping a very unfavorable week for the city’s real estate market. Subway ridership and restaurant reservations also declined, albeit more modestly. Meanwhile, COVID-19 hospitalizations surged, rising to their highest levels since mid-July. The sole positive development this week came from falling unemployment insurance (UI) claims, which fell back below their pre-pandemic rolling average.

New York City’s economic recovery stands at a score of 72 out of 100, according to the New York City Recovery Index, a joint project between Investopedia and NY1. Over two and a half years into the pandemic, New York City’s economic recovery is just under three-quarters of the way back to pre-pandemic levels.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Rebound

Citywide COVID-19 hospitalizations surged during the week ending November 26, rebounding sharply higher following two consecutive weeks of declines. The city’s hospitals recorded an average of 153 daily hospitalizations, up 28 from 125 recorded in the previous week and marking the highest level for hospitalizations since mid-July.

The CDC continues to project that virtually all cases are omicron-related. The BQ.1 subvariant still accounts for the largest share of cases, at 38% of the total as of December 3. The BQ.1.1 strain follows closely behind with a 34.4% share. A new variant labeled XBB now accounts for 8.9% of all infections, surpassing the fading BA.5 variant, which has fallen to a 6.9% share.

As of December 5, 80% of New York City residents have now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to NYC Health & Hospitals data. Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 3.04 million cases—confirmed and probable, and over 43,000 COVID-19-related deaths have been recorded in the city.

Unemployment Claims Fall

The number of unemployment insurance (UI) claims filed citywide declined by 970 claims for the week ending November 26, falling from 5,800 to 4,830. Meanwhile, the pre-pandemic rolling average of claims, which tracks the same week of 2019, declined by just 357 claims to total 5,120. As such, UI claims have fallen back below their pre-pandemic rolling average and are now 6% below comparable 2019 levels for this time of year. UI claims remain well within their pre-pandemic range, with the subindex remaining fully recovered. The fall in unemployment claims this week was the sole positive development within the aggregate index.

Home Sales Plunge

Citywide pending home sales witnessed a massive decline for the week ending November 26, with total sales plunging to 283 this week, from 423 last week. As a result, home sales are now 23% below their pre-pandemic rolling average. If the downward trend persists over the coming weeks, it could mark the first time in over two years that home sales will fall short of a full recovery, in what has consistently been one of the strongest components of the recovery index to date. Losses in home sales could continue as the national housing market slows, driven by rising mortgage rates, limited supply, and declining affordability.

As of this week, Queens remains the only major borough where home sales continue to exceed 2019 levels, with home sales in the borough currently 5.9% above their pre-pandemic rolling average. Manhattan and Brooklyn have fallen behind significantly, with home sales now 27.6% and 33.2% below their pre-pandemic baselines, respectively.

Rental Availability Down Steeply

There were 14,977 available vacancies in the city’s rental market for the week ending November 26, down by nearly 2,000 units compared to the previous week. This week’s large decline shed nine percentage points off the rental inventory subindex, which declined to a score of 86 out of 100, in addition to eliminating all inventory gains from November. While seasonal declines in rental inventories are typical for this time of year, this week’s decline was an unusually large one, and could have been exacerbated by COVID-19-related disruptions.

By borough, the steepest week-over-week declines in rental inventory levels were recorded in Brooklyn and Queens, with a relatively smaller decline in Manhattan. Rental vacancies in Brooklyn and Queens fell by 13.3% and 14.5%, respectively, while those in Manhattan declined by 9.8%.

Subway Ridership Extends Declines

Subway ridership recorded another slight decline for the week ended November 26, marking a third consecutive week of minor losses. The trailing seven-day average of riderships fell to 35.1% below pre-pandemic levels, from 34.8% down last week. The subway mobility subindex score remained unchanged at 65 out of 100. For the week, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) reported average daily ridership of 2.48 million.

Restaurant Reservations Dip Lower

New York City restaurants recorded another slight dip in reservations this week, with the number of reservations falling to 32.6% below its pre-pandemic average, from 31.4% down last week. The data suggests that the Thanksgiving holiday failed to positively impact New York City’s dining scene, which could be a harbinger of continued poor performance for the remainder of the holiday season. The city is still missing just under a third of its diners from before the pandemic.

Research and analysis by
Adrian Nesta
Adrian Nesta, Research Analyst on the Data Journalism team at Dotdash
Adrian Nesta is a Research Analyst on the Data Journalism team at Dotdash, the digital publisher that owns and operates Investopedia. His work includes data collection, cleaning, analysis, and visualization for stories in the data journalism portfolio across every vertical at Dotdash.
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