The New York City Recovery Index: July 19

Tracking NYC's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic

Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 98 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published July 19, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.

New York City’s economic recovery backtracked significantly for the week ending July 9, 2022, with the index score falling eight percentage points to 67 out of 100. Declines were driven by a massive increase in unemployment insurance (UI) claims and steep declines in restaurant reservations and pending home sales. Meanwhile, subway ridership continued to fall while COVID-19 hospitalizations rose for the fifth consecutive week. Rental vacancies were a rare bright spot in this week’s report, recording a healthy week-over-week gain.

New York City’s economic recovery stands at a score of 67 out of 100, according to the New York City Recovery Index, a joint project between Investopedia and NY1. Over two years into the pandemic, New York City’s economic recovery is slightly over two-thirds of the way back to pre-pandemic levels.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Increase Again

The COVID-19 hospitalization rate in New York City rose for the fifth consecutive week, to 122 hospitalized people per day, as the city struggles to contain outbreaks of omicron subvariants. Following several weeks of upward momentum, the seven-day average of hospitalizations is now nearly seven times higher than the post-winter-wave trough of 18 daily hospitalizations recorded in early March. The COVID-19 hospitalizations subindex declined by a further point to 40 out of 100, remaining the worst-performing measure within the aggregate index.

The CDC continues to project that 100% of all new cases in New York City are omicron-related, with the BA.5 subvariant now making up an overwhelming share of all new infections. Fully 80.7% of all new cases were attributable to the BA.5 subvariant, compared to 10.7% for the BA.4 variant and just 8.9% for the older BA.2.12.1 strain. Of notable concern, Region 2 of the Department of Health & Human Services (which encompasses New York City) now has the highest prevalence of the BA.5 variant among all ten census regions tracked by the CDC.

The share of fully vaccinated New York City residents remained unchanged from a week prior, with 79.0% of all residents fully immunized against COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic over two years ago, a total of 2,675,000 cases (confirmed and probable) have been recorded in the city, along with 40,933 deaths.

Unemployment Claims Rise Steeply

The number of unemployment insurance (UI) claims filed throughout New York City rose steeply during the week ending July 9, nearly doubling to 12,000 claims from 6,640 recorded in the week before. Meanwhile, the 2019 rolling average of claims, tracking the equivalent pre-pandemic week, only rose by 2,060 claims to just under 9,000. After several months of the city’s labor market exceeding, or roughly matching 2019 levels, the UI claims subindex has fallen to just 75% of the pre-pandemic baseline. The spike in unemployment claims this week marks the largest week-over-week percentage increase in claims since the week ending April 30, 2022.

This week’s rise in unemployment claims was unevenly distributed across the city’s five boroughs. UI claims in the Bronx more than doubled, rising 109% week-over-week, while the rate of increase in Queens was not far behind at 98%, a near-doubling. Meanwhile, the percentage increases for Brooklyn, Staten Island, and particularly Manhattan were comparatively lower. Brooklyn and Staten Island recorded week-over-week increases of 78% and 70%, respectively, while UI claims in Manhattan rose by a considerably smaller 37%.

Pending Home Sales Plunge

Pending home sales across New York City experienced a major decline for the week ending July 9, with 159 fewer homes sold compared to the previous week. The index measure fell below the pre-pandemic baseline for the first time since late November 2020, with home sales now 3% below the 2019 baseline. This marks a major shift for citywide home sales, which in recent months stood well above the pre-pandemic baseline, buoyed by a strong national housing market. However, rising mortgage rates and a lack of affordability have cooled New York City housing demand in recent weeks, with the downward trend expected to continue over the upcoming weeks and months.

Rental Availability Rebounds

Rental vacancies in New York City recorded a healthy gain for the week ended July 9, in an otherwise difficult week for the city’s economic recovery. Citywide vacancies rose to 15,427, gaining 1,178 compared to the previous week and reversing three consecutive weeks of declines. At the current level, rental availability remains about 1,000 units short of the pre-pandemic baseline for this time of year, with the rental availability subindex currently at 79 out of 100. This week’s increase in rental vacancies marks the sole positive change for any subcomponent of the index.

Subway Ridership Continues to Decline

The city’s subway network experienced another decline in ridership this week, declining for the third consecutive week. Daily ridership is now 43% below the pre-pandemic baseline, versus 41.2% last week, marking the lowest level of subway ridership in over four months. For the week, the MTA recorded a trailing average of 2.46 million daily riderships.

Restaurant Reservations Collapse

Reservations at the city’s restaurants declined substantially during the week ending July 9, recording their largest week-over-week decline since the initial outbreak of the pandemic in March of 2020. The trailing seven-day average of reservations plunged to 43.1% below the 2019 baseline from a pandemic-era high of 25.4% down recorded last week. This week’s massive decline eliminated all gains achieved over recent weeks, with the current subindex score of 57 marking the worst result for restaurant reservations since the start of June. While warm summer weather would ideally provide a boost to the city’s outdoor dining scene, rising inflation—particularly surging food costs—could negatively impact the industry over the coming weeks.

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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