The New York City Recovery Index: January 3

Tracking NYC's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic

Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 70 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published January 4, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.

New York City’s economic recovery index plunged to a score of 77 for the week ended Dec. 18, losing its place in the 80s. A dramatic rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations was responsible for the losses, as well as dips in home sales in most other measures of the index.

Last week, former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Mayor Eric Adams announced the “Stay Safe and Stay Open” plan for schools, doubling in-school testing and implementing new measures to reduce student absences. Currently, more than half of all COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide are in New York City, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

New York City’s recovery stands at a score of 77 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 over three-quarters of the way back to early March 2020 levels.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Soar

COVID-19 hospitalization rates skyrocketed as of Dec. 18, rising to a seven-day average of 213 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, 90 more than the prior week ended Dec. 11. Hospitalization rates have not been this high since April of 2021, and are 10 times higher than lows reached in early July. 

The omicron variant of COVID-19 overtook delta in the region, with the CDC projecting that roughly 98% of new cases in the New York region (along with New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) are linked to omicron, compared to just 13% two weeks earlier.

A total of 1,696,966 cases and 35,514 deaths were recorded in New York City as of Jan. 4.1 As of Jan. 3, 73% of New York State’s population has fully vaccinated against COVID-19, per the CDC.

Unemployment Claims Drop

The city’s rate of unemployment claims fell to an estimated 15% above pre-pandemic levels as of Dec. 18. It was the closest unemployment claims estimates have come to a full recovery since May of this year, likely driven by seasonal hiring over the holidays, despite a record number of quits driven by workers in the healthcare and restaurant sectors. If current levels are maintained into the new year, the measure will have effectively recovered. 

Home Sales Plummet

The number of pending home sales in New York City dropped to 541 homes as of Dec. 18, dragging down the city’s overall score. However, home sales still surpassed 2019 levels, with sales running 41% higher than 2019 rates over the same period. By borough, sales in Manhattan and Brooklyn are up 49% compared to pre-pandemic levels, while sales figures in Queens are up 50%.

Rental Market Contracts

The city’s inventory of available rentals decreased by another 833 units as of Dec. 18, bringing the rental market index down to a score of 86. There were a total of 13,570 residences on the market. Rather than demand for units, a lack of available residences has largely held the rental index back from achieving a full recovery. 

More Setbacks for Subway Ridership

After reaching its best score since the onset of the pandemic just two week prior, subway ridership continued to experience setbacks, falling to 43% below pre-pandemic levels as of Dec. 18. Delays and suspensions of service related to staffing shortages likely compounded the impacts of a seasonal ebb in ridership over the winter months. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) estimated a trailing seven-day average of close to 2.82 million riders on public transport. 

Restaurant Reservations Decline

The city’s restaurant reservation index took a hit as of Dec. 18, falling to 43.9% below 2019 levels, according to OpenTable estimates. With lower outdoor temperatures during the winter, and COVID-19 cases continuing to rise, fewer diners are opting to eat out. However, with several weeks of colder weather ahead, and little sign of case rates abating, the city’s restaurants could face a sustained lull in reservations. 

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