Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 49 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published July 26, 2021. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.

New York City’s economic recovery index remained unchanged as of July 17, as rising COVID-19 hospitalizations and a decline in the city’s housing market erased modest gains in other measures like restaurant reservations. The score continues to be the highest the index has reached since the onset of the pandemic despite an increase in cases, and marks the tenth week the index surpassed a score of 70. 

Following the rise in COVID-19 cases, Mayor Bill de Blasio stated on July 26 that all unvaccinated municipal city workers will be required to get weekly testing, in an expansion of the city’s vaccination policy, and suggested that private employers mandate vaccinations for their employees. Workers in public care facilities will be required to get vaccinations by August 16.

New York City’s recovery stands at a score of 78 out of 100, according to the New York City Recovery Index, a joint project between Investopedia and NY1. Over a year into the pandemic, NYC’s economic recovery is now roughly four-fifths of the way back to early March 2020 levels.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Surge

COVID-19 hospitalization rates rose significantly as of July 17, posting a rolling seven-day average of 29 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, nine greater than the week prior. Over 1,000 new cases were recorded since June, for the first time since May 8, state officials reported on July 17. NYC has recorded a total of 969,082 cases and 33,512 deaths, as of July 26. According to health officials, over two-thirds or 69% of all new cases are linked to the delta variant, and most involved individuals who were not vaccinated.

As of July 25, New York State fully vaccinated approximately 56.84% of its broader population and 65.9% of the currently eligible population (all ages 12 and older), and is on pace to fully vaccinate 70% by November. In a national ranking of state vaccination efforts, New York State came in 16 out of 50 states, districts, and territories, according to VeryWell Health

Unemployment Claims Drop

The estimated UI claims rate in New York City fell dramatically as of July 17, from 84% to 30% above 2019 levels. This is one of the lowest UI claims rates since the onset of the pandemic. However, if rising COVID-19 cases lead to travel or other business restrictions, rates could slide back to earlier highs, as they have in the past. 

Home Sales Decline

New York City’s home buying market dipped this week, with pending home sales contracting from 68% to 42% above pre-pandemic levels. Though home sales experienced a slight setback this week, it’s the only measure in the index that has fully recovered, and is performing above pre-pandemic norms. Sales in Queens swelled 55%, followed by Brooklyn at 37% and Manhattan at 19% above 2019 levels. 

Rental Vacancies Rise

Renters took 290 vacancies off the market this week, pushing New York City’s rental index to a score just above 86. This is the fourth straight week the score has stayed above 80. Some of the rental market’s gains are seasonal, as more leases begin during the summer, leading to higher turnover rates. Heading into August and September, vacancies are expected to drop further, bringing the index closer to a full recovery.

Subway Ridership Grows

Subway ridership improved as of July 17, though not enough to move the index’s subway score. With the seven-day rolling average just over 49% below pre-pandemic ridership, the measure is slightly more than half of the way back to recovery. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) estimated a trailing seven-day average of over 2.22 million riders on public transport.

Restaurant Reservations Climb

Restaurant reservations rebounded from the prior week’s lows as of July 17, at 47% below 2019 levels, according to OpenTable estimates. With most remaining COVID-19-related restrictions lifted, reservations are expected to increase over the next few weeks. However, reservations could be held back if the rise in COVID-19 cases leads to renewed safety guidelines limiting restaurant capacity.