Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 73 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published January 25, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.
New York City’s economic recovery index made strong gains over the week ended Jan. 15, as the index rose to a score of 79. A dramatic decline in unemployment claims was primarily responsible for the gains, though subway ridership also rose and COVID-19 hospitalizations fell. The city’s home sales and rental market declined along with restaurant reservations.
This week, New York’s mask mandate for public indoor venues without vaccine requirments was struck down by a New York City judge on Monday, until it was promptly reinstated on Tuesday while the case is being appealed. The moves come just as COVID-19 cases are on the decline in the city. New York Governor Kathy Hochul issued a statement calling the mandate a critical tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and commended the interim stay as “common sense.”
New York City’s recovery stands at a score of 79 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 just over three-quarters of the way back to early March 2020 levels.
COVID-19 Hospitalizations Fall
COVID-19 hospitalization rates reversed course as of Jan. 15 to plunge to a seven-day average of 705 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, a decline of 262 hospitalizations from the week before. Though that rate remains elevated, it was one of the largest weekly declines recorded in the index.
The majority of COVID-19 cases in the region remain attributable to the omicron variant, with the CDC projecting that roughly 99.8% of new cases in the New York region (along with New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) are connected to omicron.
A total of 2,207,001 cases and 37,757 deaths were recorded in New York City as of Jan. 15, while 74.5% of New York State’s population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to NYC Health data.
Unemployment Claims Ease
Unemployment claims fell substantially as of Jan. 15 to 14% lower than pre-pandemic levels, indicating the measure has not only recovered, but is stronger than pre-pandemic levels. It was one of the first weeks since the beginning of the pandemic that initial claims fell below the three-week rolling average of 2019 claims. There were a total of 8,720 claims in New York City for the week ended Jan. 15, compared to a three-week rolling average of 10,243.3 over the same week in 2019.
Home Sales Plummet
Although there were more pending home sales in New York City as of Jan. 15 than over the same period in 2019, the city’s home sales index still contracted due to slowing growth compared to 2019. However, home sales continued to surpass 2019 levels by a sizable margin, with sales running 70% higher than 2019 rates over the same period. By borough, sales in Manhattan are up 73% compared to pre-pandemic levels, while sales figures in Brooklyn are up 59%, and sales in Queens are up 98%.
Rental Market Contracts
New York City had 13,167 rentals on the market for the week of Jan. 15, a decrease of 110 units from the week prior, pulling the rental index down to a score of 84. Although the rental index score hovers in the mid-80s, it remains one of the best-performing measures in the index, behind home sales and unemployment claims, and stands to make further gains if it can withstand seasonal lows in the winter months.
Subway Ridership Reverses Decline
Subway ridership changed direction as of Jan. 15, rising slightly to a seven-day trailing average of 53% below 2019 levels. After six straight weeks of declines in ridership, the turnaround could point to a meaningful change in the measure’s trajectory. However, the rate continues to hover near June 2021 levels, when it stagnated within just a few percentage points of 50%. The MTA now estimates a trailing 7-day average of 2.09 million riders as of Jan. 15.
Restaurant Reservations Decrease
It was another tough week for New York City restaurants, as reservations continued to edge lower from 63% to 64% below 2019 levels, according to OpenTable estimates. Though the measure decreased, the fall was considerably less steep than that of the week prior, in a potential sign that the decline could be slowing. However, seasonal lows in activity during the winter months, along with colder temperatures and COVID-19 restrictions could hold a recovery for reservations back by several weeks.