The New York City Recovery Index: May 16

Tracking NYC's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic

Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 89 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published May 17, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.

New York City’s economic recovery index gained sharply in the week ending May 7, 2022, recovering losses incurred during the week of April 30. The index score rose to 74 out of 100, matching the level from two weeks ago. Positive contributions to this week’s score included a significant fall in unemployment insurance (UI) claims, a higher rental vacancy rate, and a rise in restaurant reservations. On the downside, COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to rise, while subway ridership declined. 

Following an uptick in COVID-19 cases, New York City health officials announced on Tuesday that the city’s COVID-19 alert level was raised from “medium” to “high.” And while no new mask mandates were issued, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene encouraged residents to wear masks in public settings and avoid “higher-risk” activities. A survey by the Partnership for New York City published last week found just 38% of Manhattan-based employees were in the office in person on an average weekday as of late April. Up to 28% of Manhattan office workers remain fully remote, while the share of workers in the office five days a week was at a low 8%. A clear majority, or 80%, of surveyed employers suggested they expect to maintain a hybrid model going forward.

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 Climb

The COVID-19 hospitalization rate in New York City rose for the eighth consecutive week, reaching an average of 74 hospitalizations daily, eight higher compared to the previous week. The COVID-19 trailing seven-day average of hospitalizations is now over four times higher than the low reached in early March, reflecting surging infection rates throughout the New York region. The current level is roughly equivalent to that of early December 2021, during the early stages of the omicron surge. The growth rate in new hospitalizations is slowing, as the seven-day average increased by 12% compared to the previous week’s figure, down from an 18% gain in the week ending April 30.

The CDC continues to project that 100% of new cases in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are omicron-related. The rapidly-growing BA.2.12.1 strain of the virus now accounts for 73.1% of new cases, with New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands having the highest prevalence of this strain among all regions tracked by the Department of Health.

The share of fully vaccinated New York City residents continues to tick upward, with 78.3% of residents fully immunized against COVID-19, according to NYC Health data. Since the start of the pandemic over two years ago, over 2.43 million cases and 40,291 deaths have been recorded in New York City.

Unemployment Claims Plummet

Unemployment insurance (UI) claims declined substantially for the week ending May 7, following a surge in claims over the previous week. Total claims decreased by 6,310 to 5,970 claims, more than halving from the elevated total of 12,280 claims during the week of April 30. The normalization of claims puts the current figure solidly below the pre-pandemic rolling average of claims, which stood at 8,547 during the equivalent week of 2019. With this week’s decline, UI claims are once again firmly below the pre-pandemic level, and considered to be fully recovered.

Home Sales Decline Modestly

Home sales in New York City declined in the week ending May 7, falling from 712 to 709 total sales. Home sales remain well above pre-pandemic levels, currently exceeding 2019 levels by 51%, and are considered fully recovered. Breaking down home sales by borough, Manhattan leads average gains, with sales 60% above the pre-pandemic level. In Brooklyn and Queens, home sales are currently 51.5% and 23.2% above the pre-pandemic level, respectively.

Rental Vacancies Rise Significantly

Vacancies in New York City’s rental market rose considerably for the week ending May 7, recording a rise of 984 vacancies compared to the prior week and putting the total at 13,411. This week’s increase in rental vacancies represented the largest weekly increase since early March, causing the rental inventory subindex to rise to a score of 76.5 out of 100. As such, rental vacancies still lag the pre-pandemic average by about 2,000 units, remaining 23.5% below the pre-pandemic level.

Subway Ridership Reverses Gains

Subway ridership declined in the week ending May 7, reversing the gains recorded over the previous week. The trailing seven-day average of riders fell from 40.1% to 41.3% below the pre-pandemic average. For the week, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) reported a trailing seven-day average of 2.82 million riders on the city’s subway network.

Restaurant Reservations Recover Slightly

Restaurant reservation recorded a slight comeback in the week ended May 7, rising from 41.3% to 40.6% below the pre-pandemic baseline. However, the increase did not fully offset the decline recorded over the previous week, as the reservation rate before the decline stood at 38.5% below the pre-pandemic level. Over the past few months, restaurant reservations have never exceeded 33.6% below the pre-pandemic level, a figure that was recorded last November, prior to the omicron surge.

Article Sources
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  1. NYC Health. "COVID-19: Alert Level."

  2. The Partnership for New York City. “Nearly 80% of New York City Employers Anticipate Hybrid Work Model Moving Forward, Partnership Survey Finds.”

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