The New York City Recovery Index: November 1

Tracking NYC's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic

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Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 63 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published November 2, 2021. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.

New York City’s economic recovery index held onto its record-setting streak, rising two points to a fresh high of 84 as of Oct. 23, in the third straight week the index registered a score above 80. A sizable boost in the city’s pending home sales and a reduction in COVID-19 hospitalizations, as well as modest progress in every other component except the rental index helped raise the score higher.

As the city’s recently instituted COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city employees went into effect this week, most of the city’s municipal workforce returned to work vaccinated. About 12,000 employees claimed religious exemptions, while roughly 9,000 were placed on unpaid leave for failure to comply with the vaccine requirement.

New York City’s recovery stands at a score of 84 out of 100, according to the New York City Recovery Index, a joint project between Investopedia and NY1. Over a year and a half into the pandemic, NYC’s economic recovery is a little over four-fifths of the way back to early March 2020 levels.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Fall

COVID-19 hospitalization rates declined as of Oct. 23, falling to a rolling seven-day average of 38 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, 11 fewer than the week before. While lower than the highs of January, that rate is still nearly double hospitalization rates from earlier this summer in June and early July.

The CDC continues to project that roughly 99.4% of new cases in the New York region (along with New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) are linked to the delta variant. A total of 1,123,352 cases and 34,589 deaths were recorded in New York City as of Nov. 2.

As of Nov. 1, New York State has fully vaccinated approximately 67.17% of its broader population and is on pace to fully vaccinate 70% by late January of next year. In a national ranking of state vaccination efforts, New York State came in 9th out of 50 states, districts, and territories, according to CDC data and analysis by Verywell.

Unemployment Claims Shrink

The city’s rate of unemployment claims continued to improve as of Oct. 23, falling 2 percentage points to an estimated 38% above pre-pandemic levels. After several months of volatility, the measure is beginning to show steady progress on a weekly basis, as it edges nearer to a full recovery. This is only the second time the measure has experienced a trend under 50% since the start of the pandemic.

Home Sales Surge

The number of pending home sales in New York City increased by 78 homes as of Oct. 23, which raised the city’s home sales index by eight points. Sales in the city are up over 83% above pre-pandemic levels, with 679 home sales last week compared to 371 over the same period in 2019. By borough, sales in Manhattan are up 86% compared to pre-pandemic levels, while sales figures in Brooklyn are up 47.4% and Queens is up 36.6%. 

Low Supply Holds Back Rental Market

A decrease of 336 available residences led to yet another decline in New York City’s rental market due to lack of supply, causing the index to fall two points to a score of 85. With a total of 15,574 residences on the market as of Oct. 23, the rental market continues to be one of the best-performing measures in the index, has effectively recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, and is seemingly only being held back by a lack of units.

Subway Ridership Rebounds

Subway ridership made a slight comeback as of Oct. 23, recovering some of the last week’s losses to shift back to 43% below pre-pandemic levels. However, the measure has yet to break free of its sustained lull near the 50% mark. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) estimated a trailing seven-day average of close to 2.8 million riders on public transport. 

Restaurant Reservations Tick Upward

The city’s restaurant reservation index changed direction this week, as reservations edged up from 43.6% to 42.67% below 2019 levels as of Oct. 23, according to OpenTable estimates. The rise brought the rate effectively back to where it was two weeks ago. Like subway ridership, restaurant reservations had lingered close to the 50% mark for several months, and have struggled to break away from the trend. Though the city has extended its outdoor dining program, it brought back a ban on propane heaters to warm outdoor dining spaces, which could hold reservations back as outdoor temperatures begin to fall this winter season.

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  1. NYC Health. "Total Data." Accessed November 2, 2021.