Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 44 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published June 15, 2021. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.
New York City’s economic recovery took a small step back as of June 5, losing a point to settle on a score of 74. However, most elements in the index, aside from home buying and restaurant reservations, made gains, showing positive movement despite setbacks. This is the fourth week that the index has surpassed 70, and the seventh straight week above 60. A lull in home buying in the city was the main culprit behind the decrease, though it’s worth noting that home buying rates still exceed pre-pandemic levels. Most other measures, including COVID-19 hospitalizations, unemployment claims and subway ridership made steady progress.
Finally surpassing the country’s 70% COVID-19 vaccination goal, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on June 15 that the state would relax remaining COVID-related restrictions. Businesses are no longer required to enforce social distancing, masks, or limit how many people can share indoor spaces, though most New Yorkers will still have to wear masks in many public facilities like schools and hospitals.
New York City’s recovery stands at 74 out of a total score of 100, according to the New York City Recovery Index, a joint project between Investopedia and NY1. The index rose three points from the prior week. Over a year into the pandemic, NYC’s economic recovery is now roughly two-thirds of the way back to early March 2020 levels.
COVID-19 Hospitalizations Fall
COVID-19 hospitalizations fell in New York City for the tenth straight week, reporting a rolling seven-day average of 24 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, a reduction in 7 hospitalizations from the prior week’s average. The city’s seven-day average hasn’t been this low since last September. NYC has recorded a total of 952,729 cases and 33,359 deaths, as of June 15.
New York State rose in a national ranking of state vaccination efforts in the country’s push to vaccinate, coming in 15th from 18th last week out of 59 states, districts, and territories, according to VeryWell Health. With vaccinations available to all persons 12 and older, New York State has vaccinated approximately 50.84% of the population and 59% of the currently eligible population as of June 15.
Unemployment Claims Slow
The estimated UI claims rate in New York City improved this week, now 75% above 2019 levels compared with 91% last week. This represents one of the best weeks for the city’s year-on-two-years rate since the onset of the pandemic in March of 2020, and the fourth straight week UI claims remained beneath 100% above 2019 levels.
With consumer demand on the rise across the country, and the economy on its way to recovery, expect UI claims to continue to ebb heading into the summer season, which typically boasts lower seasonal claims rates.
Home Sales Falter
Pending home sales saw a bit of a slump as of June 5, in the most pronounced weekly decline since April, as buyers took a breather from what would still be considered a charged housing market, running 63% above 2019 levels. The home buying market has been higher than normal YOY for New York City since last August.
On closer inspection, there was a decrease of 75 home sales week-over-week, from 752 to 677, but two sales higher compared to the same week in 2019. Though home prices were a major driver in the index’s decline this week, it’s the only measure that has not only fully recovered, but surpassed pre-pandemic numbers.
Rental Vacancies See Slight Uptick
New York City’s rental market saw an increase in vacancies, as 669 residences came on the market. Despite the rise in vacancies, the increase remained lower than typical for the summer season, when lease turnover is normally higher, resulting in a positive rentals index score.
With eight straight weeks of improvements, and heading into seasonal lows, movement in the rental index continues to reflect strong demand for housing, for renters as well as buyers.
Subway Ridership Grows
Subway ridership rose as of June 5, as the seven-day rolling average reached a level that’s now only 55% less than 2019 over the same period. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) estimated a trailing seven-day average of over 1.91 million riders on public transport, pushing the index’s subway ridership score three points higher.
Based on current trends, subway ridership appears to be trending towards 50% below pre-pandemic levels, and a rolling average of 2 million weekly riders, both important milestones on the road to recovery.
Restaurants Reservations Unchanged
Restaurant reservations experienced little change as of June 5, with OpenTable estimating the trailing seven-day average of seated diners in New York City still sits at just over 58% lower than the same period in 2019. This represents the second week the restaurant industry did not see major gains in almost two months.
Though underperforming compared to pre-pandemic levels, with COVID-19 restrictions being lifted across NYC and New York State, reservations should see growth over the next few months towards recovery.