Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 95 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published June 28, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.
New York City’s economic recovery index experienced a slight decline for the week ending June 18, 2022, dropping down one point to a score of 74 out of 100. While subway ridership increased, a notable decline in restaurant reservations, and a rise in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations weighed on the index, along with a slight uptick in unemployment claims, and a decline in rental vacancies.
New York City’s economic recovery stands at a score of 74 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 just under three-quarters of the way back to pre-pandemic levels.
COVID-19 Hospitalizations Continue to Rise
The COVID-19 hospitalization rate in New York City continued to rise for the week ending June 18, as average daily hospitalizations increased by another 10 to 97.4 hospitalized people per day. After increasing for over two months, the trailing seven day average of COVID-19 hospitalizations continues to fluctuate. The current rate remains over five times above the post-omicron low of 18 daily hospitalizations recorded for the week of March 12. While the average hospitalization rate is slightly more than pre-omicron level waves, it has not increased as rapidly compared to prior waves of COVID-19, which could indicate that Omicron subvariants are not as contagious as previous strains of the virus.
The CDC continues to project that 100% of new cases remain omicron-related. The leading BA.2.12.1 strain now accounts for 53.5% of new infections, a sizable decline from the 70% recorded last week. However, omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 are almost just as prevalent, accounting for 11.9% and 31.2% cases in the New York region, respectively. Despite the increase, Region 2 of the Department of Health & Human Services, which encompasses New York, has the lowest combined levels of the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants among all census regions tracked by the CDC. Meanwhile, the share of fully vaccinated New York City residents continues to inch marginally higher, with 78.8% of residents fully immunized against COVID-19, according to NYC Health & Hospitals data.
Unemployment Claims Rise Again
The number of unemployment insurance (UI) claims filed in New York City increased again for the week ending June 18. UI claims rose by 220 claims from 5,380 to 5,500, while the 2019 rolling average of claims actually decreased by 50 claims over the same week in 2019. Another increase in UI claims compared to a slight decrease in the rolling three week average of 2019 claims has put the current number of claims slightly above pre-pandemic levels. However, since unemployment claims are essentially even with 2019 levels, the measure is still considered fully recovered.
Home Sales Decrease Slightly
Citywide pending home sales had a slight decline for the week ending June 18, with home sales now 34% higher than 2019 levels, compared to 41% higher last week. Home sales recorded a decrease of 16 homes down to a total of 573, while the 2019 rolling average increased by nine homes to 427 total over the same week in 2019, causing the decline. However, pending home sales continue to be well above pre-pandemic levels, and therefore considered fully recovered. By borough, Queens continues to hold the lead with pending home sales 45.5% higher than 2019 levels, with Brooklyn and Manhattan following behind with 38.5% and 28.4%, respectively.
Rental Availability Little Changed
Rental vacancies in New York City declined slightly after two weeks of large gains. There were 14,530 units on the rental market for the week ended June 18, which is 37 less than last week. However, the decline left the score for the rental inventory subindex unchanged at 77, which is still over three-quarters of the way to a full recovery. The current availability is about 2,000 units short of the pre-pandemic baseline.
New data from real estate brokerage firm Douglas Elliman found that Manhattan’s median rent surged to the $4,000 threshold for the first time ever, with the average rental price in the city reaching $4,975 in May 2022. The change represents a 3.2% jump in the average rental price in Manhattan from April 2022, and about a 25% year-over-year increase from May 2021.
Subway Ridership Surges Forward
Subway ridership had a notable increase for the week ended June 18, with the seven day trailing average now at 37.3% below pre-pandemic levels, compared to 38.5% last week. This week’s gains recuperate the decline in ridership from the previous week, and is the best number the index has posted since over a month ago during the week ended May 21. For the week ended June 18, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) reported an average of 2.96 million daily riders.
Looking at other sectors of NYC public transit, ridership on the Long Island Railroads (LIRR) and Metro North continue to outperform the subway over the past three months. Ridership on the LIRR is 71.7% above pre-pandemic levels as of June 18, up 12.3 percentage points from the week of March 26, while the Metro North is 71.7% above 2019 levels, up 11.5% percentage points from March. In comparison, subway ridership is at 62.7% of pre-pandemic levels as of June 18, up from 59.3% at the end of March.
Restaurant Reservations Slide
Reservations at New York City restaurants experienced a notable decrease for the week ended June 18, with the seven day trailing average declining from down 33.8% last week to 35.7% this week. While this is definitely a correction, it does not reverse all of the gains made in the previous week. However, the industry is still missing just over one-third of the number of diners this time of the year compared to pre-pandemic levels.