Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 92 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published June 7, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.
New York City’s economic recovery index declined for the week ending May 28, 2022, falling to a score of 73 out of 100 points. The sole positive change came from rising home sales, which remain well above pre-pandemic levels. Rental availability and subway mobility both recorded particularly large declines week-over-week, while restaurant reservations recorded a more modest decline. COVID-19 hospitalizations are once again on the rise, after a decline in the hospitalization rate was recorded the prior week.
New York City’s economic recovery stands at a score of 73 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 Hospitalization Rate Rises Again
The COVID-19 hospitalization rate in New York City reversed course and rose again in the week ending May 28, following an encouraging decline over the previous week. The hospitalization rate rose to 98 hospitalized individuals per day, compared to 91 for the week prior, and matching the rate of two weeks prior, recorded on May 14. This indicates that the positive movement seen a week ago has not yet translated into a downward trend, and further increases are a possibility. The trailing seven-day average of new hospital admissions is now 5.5 times higher compared to the post-omicron low of early March.
The CDC continues to project that 100% of new cases are omicron-related, with the highly contagious BA.2.12.1 strain now accounting for 80.2% of new infections. Region 2 of the Department of Health and Human Services, which encompasses New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, has the highest prevalence of the BA.2.12.1 strain of all regions tracked by the department. The share of fully vaccinated residents in New York City remained steady, with 78.6% of residents fully immunized against COVID-19, according to NYC Health data. Since the start of the pandemic in March of 2020, more than 2.52 million cases and 40,484 deaths have been recorded in New York City.
Unemployment Claims Rise
The number of unemployment insurance (UI) claims filed in New York City rose during the week ending May 28. Claims increased by 310 to a total of 5,350, just above the pre-pandemic rolling average of claims tracking the equivalent week of 2019, totalling 5,207. This week’s decline pushed the UI claims subindex score down to 97 out of 100, receding from a full recovery. Unemployment claims numbers have been roughly in line with 2019 levels over recent weeks, alternating to and from a full recovery.
Home Sales Rise Modestly
Home sales were the sole bright spot in this week’s report, with pending home sales in New York City rising by 8, totalling 593 total sales. The modest increase puts pending home sales 40% higher than the pre-pandemic baseline, as sales remain well above 2019 levels and are therefore considered fully recovered. Breaking down the results by borough, Brooklyn continues to lead the citywide average with home sales 57% above the pre-pandemic level. Manhattan and Queens follow with rates of 40% and 14%, respectively.
Rental Availability Falls
Rental vacancies in New York City fell during the week of May 28, declining by 877 units and totalling 12,636 available rentals. This week’s unusually large regression has wiped out the gains witnessed throughout late April and early May, at a time when residential availability typically rises. At their current level, rental vacancies remain about 3,000 units short of their pre-pandemic baseline tracking the equivalent week of 2019, with the rental inventory subindex score declining to 74 out of 100.
Subway Ridership Declines Steeply
Subway ridership declined steeply during the week of May 28, following an encouraging acceleration in ridership levels over the previous week. The trailing seven-day average of riders has once again fallen below 60% of the pre-pandemic level, to 40.3% below pre-pandemic ridership levels compared to 34% during the previous week. Taking into account this week’s large decline, ridership levels remain effectively unchanged from the pre-omicron level of late November and early December. The MTA reported a trailing average of 2.85 million daily riderships during the week of May 28.
Restaurant Reservations Experience a Setback
Restaurant reservations backtracked during the week of May 28, following a surge in reservations over the previous week. The trailing seven-day average of new reservations fell to 35.2% below the pre-pandemic baseline, compared to 33.1% down during the week of May 21. The city’s restaurant industry is looking ahead to the summer season, when consistently warm weather and late evenings typically encourage more outdoor dining.
New York City continues to lag other major metros across the country in the recovery of its restaurant industry. Compared to its 2019 baseline, New York lags the most in a selection of cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Washington D.C. Houston restaurants have fully recovered from their pandemic-era losses and are now 18.7% above their 2019 baseline, while Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington D.C. have figures ranging from 5.8% to 27.8% below their respective pre-pandemic levels. New York City also experienced one of the slower rates of increase throughout the spring among the cities tracked, with reservations rising 10.4% over a three-month period. Chicago and Los Angeles experienced larger gains of 19.4% and 11.9%, respectively.