The New York City Recovery Index: May 9

Tracking NYC's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic

Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 88 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published May 10, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.

New York City’s economic recovery index experienced a steep decline in the week ending April 30, 2022, falling to 69 out of 100 points compared to the previous week’s score of 74. The decline was driven by a sharp contraction in the unemployment claims subindex, while COVID-19 hospitalization rates continued to rise and restaurant reservations fell. Measures that made progress included subway ridership, which rose compared to the previous week, while rental vacancies ticked up after several consecutive weeks of decline.

New York City’s economic recovery stands at a score of 69 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 seven-tenths 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 in the week ending April 30, reaching an average of 66 hospitalizations per day, an increase of 10 compared to the previous week. This marks the seventh consecutive week of rising hospitalization rates, as the region deals with a prolonged increase in new infections caused by the emergence of new omicron subvariants. The seven-day average of new infections is now nearly four times higher than the post-omicron low recorded during the week of March 12, though the rate of new infections slowed somewhat, increasing 18% week-over-week compared to a 30% gain during the week of April 23.

The CDC continues to project that 100% of cases in the New York region (which includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) are attributable to the omicron variant. The fast-growing BA.2.12.1 strain now accounts for 66.3% of new infections, with the New York region having the highest prevalence of this strain among all census regions tracked by the Department of Health and Human Services. According to NYC Health data, 78.2% of New York City residents had been fully immunized against COVID-19 as of May 3, a further marginal increase from the previous week’s share. Since the start of the pandemic over two years ago, nearly 2.41 million cases have been recorded in the city, along with 40,248 COVID-19-related deaths.

Mirroring the increase in infection rates, the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units (ICUs) has also risen over the past two months. Total hospitalizations have risen 260% from the post-omicron lows of early March, while the number of patients in ICUs throughout New York City has risen 20% compared to the final week of March. The number of ICU patients requiring intubation has risen 25% since early April. However, overall hospitalization rates and ICU arrivals are increasing at slower rates compared to previous waves of the pandemic.

Unemployment Claims Surge

Unemployment insurance (UI) claims for the week ended April 30 surged from 5,630 to 12,280, skyrocketing by 6,650 claims over the course of the week. This increase caused the unemployment claims subindex to plummet, from a full recovery to just 69% of the pre-pandemic level, with weekly claims now exceeding the 2019 rolling average by about 44%. Unemployment claims in New York City typically experience a large seasonal uptick this time of year, occurring roughly on the 18th week of each year. It remains to be seen whether this week’s increase is in line with the seasonal trend, or whether it is a more concerning sign of unexpected disruption in the city’s labor market.

Home Sales Increase Slightly

Pending home sales in New York City rose during the week ending April 30, increasing from 692 to 712 total sales. Home sales remain well above pre-pandemic levels and are fully recovered, as the comparable figure for the same week of 2019 totaled 458 sales. By borough, Queens continues to lead gains, with home sales 84% above the pre-pandemic level, followed by Brooklyn and Manhattan with sales 53% and 51% above 2019 levels, respectively.

Rental Market Records Gains

Residential vacancies in the city’s rental market rose to 12,427 rentals in the week ending April 30, a rise of 767 compared to the previous week. This week’s increase marks a healthy turnaround compared to the large decline of nearly 1,000 units recorded during the week of April 23. The increase put the rental inventory subindex at 76 out of 100, with the city’s rental market about three-quarters of the way to a full recovery. Still, the current level of vacancies lags the pre-pandemic norm by about 3,000 units.

Subway Ridership Rebounds

Subway ridership recorded a healthy gain in the week ending April 30, with the trailing seven-day average of riderships rising to 40.1% below the pre-pandemic average, compared to 41.4% below 2019 levels the week before. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) reported a trailing seven-day average of 2.88 million riders during the week ending April 30.

Restaurant Reservations Decline Again

Restaurant reservations declined for the second consecutive week, falling from 38.5% to 41.3% below the pre-pandemic level, roughly matching pre-omicron levels of late November and early December 2021. Reservations could be impacted by warmer weather, serving as a tailwind, and rising COVID-19 infection rates serving as a headwind. If COVID-19 infection rates continue to rise, it will be a worrying sign for the health of the city’s restaurant industry, and could counter any gains resulting from warmer weather.

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