Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 76 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published Feb. 16, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.
New York City’s economic recovery index experienced a huge surge forward the week ended Feb. 5, as the index shot up from a score of 73 to 81, reaching its highest score since mid-December 2021. Every measure in the index improved week-over-week, with COVID-19 hospitalizations continuing to trend downward, as well as an increase in subway ridership, restaurant reservations, and a boost in home sales.
In a briefing on Tuesday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that she will be taking a “holistic approach” to lifting the mask mandate in schools, taking vaccination rates, infection rates, and global trends into account before coming to a decision. “There’s not a magic number,” Hochul said. The mandate will likely be reassessed in early March, after students return from winter break. As of Feb. 10, masks are no longer required in businesses and other indoor spaces in New York.
New York City’s recovery stands at a score of 81 out of 100, according to the New York City Recovery Index, a joint project between Investopedia and NY1. Nearly two years into the pandemic, NYC’s economic recovery is over four-fifths of the way back to early March 2020 levels.
COVID-19 Hospitalizations Fall
COVID-19 hospitalization rates continued to fall as of Feb. 5, the seven-day average now at 140 hospitalizations per day, which represents a decline of 95 from last week. The hospitalization levels have now been on a dramatic decline for three consecutive weeks. Though the hospitalization rate is still high, it is expected to reach pre-omicron levels next week, if the numbers continue to decline at the current rate.
All of the new cases in the area can be attributed to the omicron variant, with the CDC projecting 100% of new cases in the New York region (along with New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) are related to omicron.
A total of 2,266,164 cases and 39,468 deaths were recorded in New York City as of Feb. 16, while 76% of New York State’s population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to NYC Health data.
Unemployment Claims Decline
Unemployment claims decreased by 240 claims the week ended Feb. 5, increasing the index score from 90 to 92. The city’s unemployment claims index has effectively recovered, and a decline of about 300 more claims will make the UI claims rate equal to pre-pandemic levels. There were a total of 6,590 claims in New York City for the week ended Feb. 5, compared to a rolling average of 6,073 over the same period in 2019.
Home Sales Increase
Pending home sales got a boost for the week of Feb. 5, rising to 577, compared with 335 over the same period in 2019. The city’s home sales market continues to soar past pre-pandemic levels, with almost 600 units in the StreetEasy index, making home sales 72% higher than in 2019. By borough, sales in Manhattan are 92.9% higher compared to pre-pandemic levels, while Brooklyn sales are 68.9% higher, and sales in Queens are up 17.3%.
Rental Market Stages Comeback
For the first time in four weeks, the rental market got a boost with 13,163 rentals on the market in New York City for the week of Feb. 5. This is an increase of 961 units from the previous week, bringing the city’s rental index from a score of 80 to 84. This surge in available rental units was mainly driven by Queens, which had a 9% week-over-week increase in vacant units from 1,970 to 2,151 this week. The rental market remains one of the best-performing measures in the index, behind home sales and unemployment claims.
Subway Ridership Gains
After negative trends in ridership for the past few weeks, subway ridership gained some ground the week of Feb. 5, with the seven-day trailing average now nearly 47% below pre-pandemic levels, an increase from 53% below pre-pandemic levels the week prior. Subway ridership could be back to pre-omicron levels if it experiences another gain of this size, though the rate continues to linger near June 2021 levels, when it stagnated near the 50% mark. As of Feb. 5, the MTA reported a trailing 7-day average of 2.41 million riders.
Restaurant Reservations Rebound
New York City restaurant reservations bounced back from last week’s decline, increasing from 64% to 54% below 2019 levels, according to OpenTable estimates. However, the industry still has some ways to go to get to the 50% mark, and would need two more weeks of similar rates of progress to get back to pre-omicron levels.