The New York City Recovery Index: January 31

Tracking NYC's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic

Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 74 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published Feb. 1, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.

New York City’s economic recovery index experienced some setbacks over the week ended Jan. 22, as the index fell from a score of 79 to 75. Unemployment claims across the city increased, while home sales declined, but both measures remained the best-performing in the index, at or above recovery levels. There were also some bright spots in this week’s changes, as subway ridership and restaurant reservations actually gained, while COVID-19 hospitalizations declined dramatically. 

On Sunday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced that the city would begin offering free delivery of COVID-19 antiviral pills through the New York City Health Department’s pharmacy partner, Alto Pharmacy. “I urge all eligible New Yorkers to take advantage of this service, and for every New Yorker to stay up to date with their vaccines and boosters,” he said. 

New York City’s recovery stands at a score of 75 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 three-quarters of the way back to early March 2020 levels.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Drop

COVID-19 hospitalization rates continued to decline as of Jan. 22, falling to a seven-day average of 425 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, a decline of 280 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 99.9% 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 2,236,880 cases and 38,469 deaths were recorded in New York City as of Feb. 1, while 75% of New York State’s population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to NYC Health data.

Unemployment Claims Held Back

Though unemployment claims fell as of Jan. 22, it was a smaller decrease than over the same period in 2019, lowering the index score. However, it continues to be one of the strongest measures in the index, and has fully recovered from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. There were a total of 6,790 claims in New York City for the week ended Jan. 22, compared to a three-week rolling average of 6,713 over the same week in 2019. 

Home Sales Decline

Pending home sales in New York City plunged as of Jan. 22, pulling the index down with it. However, home sales continued to surpass 2019 levels, with sales running 50% higher than 2019 over the same period. By borough, sales in Manhattan are up 54.7% compared to pre-pandemic levels, while sales figures in Brooklyn are up 53.6%, and sales in Queens are up 56.2%. 

Rental Market Shrinks

New York City had 12,775 rentals on the market for the week of Jan. 22, a decrease of 392 units from the week prior, dragging the rental index down to a score of 82. Despite challenges that coincide with seasonal lows, it remains one of the best-performing measures in the index, behind home sales and unemployment claims. 

Subway Ridership Rises

Subway ridership edged higher as of Jan. 22, rising from a seven-day trailing average of 53% to 49% below 2019 levels, indicating a sustained break from the negative trend ridership has been on for several weeks. 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 2.1 million riders as of Jan. 22.

Restaurant Reservations Stage Comeback

After a series of tough weeks for New York City restaurants, reservations ticked up from 64% to 58% below 2019 levels, according to OpenTable estimates. It was the first week of gains since the emergence of the omicron variant of COVID-19 in New York City, and could be an early sign that reservations have moved past omicron-induced lows as diners are coaxed back into eating out. However, seasonal winter lows and freezing temperatures could continue to weigh on gains for several more weeks. 

Comparing New York City restaurants with reservations in other districts in the tri-state area, it becomes clear that New York City has more ground to cover on its path to a recovery than New Jersey and Connecticut, or even the broader New York State. New York City’s recovery rate relative to pre-pandemic levels was 11 percentage points behind the state of New York’s, 39 percentage points behind New Jersey’s, and 48 percentage points behind Connecticut’s.

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