The New York City Recovery Index: March 21

Tracking NYC's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic

Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 81 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published March 22, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.

New York City’s economic recovery index staged a comeback for the week ended March 12, bumping the overall index score up from 83 to 96—the highest overall score we have seen since the start of the pandemic. Unemployment claims are trending below the 2019 rolling average, COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to fall, and restaurant reservations increased slightly, contributing to the boost in the overall score. However, subway ridership experienced a notable setback, and sales slowed in the city’s home sales market. 

On Tuesday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced that starting April 4, masks will be optional for 2- to 4-year-old children in schools and day cares. Adams said the decision was based on current COVID-19 data, as the positivity rate in schools has remained low since the mask mandate was removed two weeks ago for K-12 public schools. “New York City is currently in a low-risk environment,” said the mayor. There is currently no COVID-19 vaccine available for children six months to 4 years old.

New York City’s recovery stands at a score of 96 out of 100, according to the New York City Recovery Index, a joint project between Investopedia and NY1. Nearly two years into the pandemic, New York City’s economic recovery is now 96% recovered.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Decline Further

COVID-19 hospitalization rates continued to decline for the week of March 12, with the trailing seven-day average at 18 hospitalized people daily, nine fewer than the previous week. With nine straight weeks of declines, this is the lowest the rolling average of COVID-19 hospitalizations has been since the start of the pandemic. 

The CDC continues to project 100% of cases in the New York region (along with New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) are related to omicron, with over half of new cases related to the BA.2 strain. A total of 2,294,696 cases and 40,030 deaths were recorded in New York City as of March 22, while 77.5% of New York State’s population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to NYC Health data. 

Unemployment Claims Decrease

Unemployment claims decreased from 12,830 last week to 5,390 for the week ending March 12, while the 2019 rolling average for the same period in 2019 only decreased by 50 claims. This caused the index score to jump from a score of 61 last week to 144 this week. UI claims dipped back under 2019 levels and have stabilized after a seasonal spike in claims last week. UI claims in New York City have fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

Home Sales Cool

Pending home sales contracted over the week ended March 12, with the index score falling to 177 from 188 last week. The decline was caused by a steeper increase in the 2019 rolling average by 23 sales over the same period. However, pending home sales are still running hot, at 77% above 2019 levels. By borough, Brooklyn still holds the lead with an 87.5% increase in home sales relative to 2019 levels, with Manhattan and Queens following behind at 77% and 69%, respectively.

Rental Market Stagnates

New York City had 13,393 rentals on the market for the week of March 12, which is 58 fewer than last week. However, this did not change the rental index, as the score remains at around 80. The New York City rental market has stagnated just below 2019 levels, and would need to get closer to 15,000 vacancies to match the expected rate for this time of year.

Subway Ridership Slides

Subway ridership dropped over the week ending March 12, as the seven-day trailing average of riders dipped to 43.5% below 2019 levels, reversing gains from the week before. Despite the decline, subway ridership continues to hover around 40% below pre-pandemic levels, roughly even with ridership levels before the start of the omicron wave. Subway ridership was trailing at 56% below 2019 levels at the beginning of January, as a result of the omicron variant. 

Other public transportation networks in the New York tri-state area have experienced an increase in ridership since the end of 2021. Ridership for the Metro-North has increased 32% from Dec. 31, 2021 to the end of February, with the LIRR also experiencing a 31% boost in ridership over the same period. Ridership for bridges and tunnels also rose, rising 20% since the end of 2021. While subway ridership was the most impacted by omicron-related declines, subway ridership has rebounded the fastest, with more riders than the LIRR and Metro-North compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Restaurant Reservations Increase Slightly

New York City experienced a slight bump in restaurant reservations, increasing from 47.5% to 47% below 2019 levels this week. Though small, the gain shows positive movement for the restaurant scene in New York City, as it moves closer to 40% below pre-pandemic levels, which was the level restaurant reservations were at before the omicron wave. Restaurant reservations would need to push past 40% below 2019 levels to fully recover.

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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