Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 111 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published October 18, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.
New York City’s economic recovery backtracked for the week ended October 8, 2022, with the index score falling to 73 out of 100, from 76 in the previous week. The city’s COVID-19 hospitalization rate recorded another steep increase, confirming a rising trend. Unemployment claims rose, and now exceed their pre-pandemic average by 20%. Home sales and rental vacancies rose during a favorable week for the city’s real estate market. Subway ridership increased, reversing from a steep correction last week, while restaurant reservations had a notable decline.
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 and a half 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 Trend Higher
The COVID-19 hospitalization rate in New York City continued to rise for the week ended October 8, recording an average of 99 daily hospitalizations, up from 77 in the previous week. This week’s increase confirms a rising trend in the city’s hospitalization rate. After vacillating in the range of 73 to 75 throughout September, hospitalizations are back to levels last seen in late August.
The CDC continues to project that 100% of all current COVID-19 cases are omicron-related. The BA.5 subvariant continues to account for a majority, but diminishing share, of infections, at 57.4% of the total. The next-most prevalent strain, BA.4.6, accounts for 12.5% of infections. A new, rapidly-growing strain labeled BQ.1 now accounts for roughly 11.6% of current cases.
According to NYC Health & Hospitals data, 79.8% of New York City residents are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, inching closer to the four-fifths threshold. Since the start of the pandemic in early March 2020, nearly 2.91 million cases—confirmed and probable, and 42,185 COVID-19-related deaths have been recorded in New York City.
Unemployment Claims Surge
The number of unemployment insurance (UI) claims filed citywide rose by 1,480 for the week ended October 8, to 6,680 from 5,200 last week. Meanwhile, the pre-pandemic rolling average of claims, tracking the calendar-equivalent week of 2019, rose by only 484 claims to 5,567. As such, UI claims are now about 20% above their pre-pandemic average for this time of year. This marks a steep increase from the previous week, when UI claims were just 2% above their pre-pandemic average. If unusual increases in unemployment claims continue, it could indicate growing labor market disruptions in the city’s economy.
Home Sales Gain Slightly
Pending home sales throughout New York City rose very slightly for the week ending October 8, rising from 389 to 402 homes sold. By comparison, the 2019 rolling average of sales, tracking the same pre-pandemic week, also recorded a slight increase of 9 homes, totaling 370. Home sales remain about 8% above their pre-pandemic average for this time of year—a figure that is effectively unchanged from last week, with the home sales subindex remaining fully recovered. By borough, Brooklyn and Queens are now well ahead of Manhattan when tracking cumulative gains from pre-pandemic levels. Compared to the same week of 2019, home sales in Brooklyn and Queens were 20.7% and 20.6% higher, respectively. By contrast, sales in Manhattan were 0.4% lower than their pre-pandemic baseline, dropping below a full recovery.
Rental Inventory Levels Increase
The city’s rental market experienced a turnaround this week, as the number of vacancies rose by 370, totaling 16,066 residences. This week’s increase almost fully offset a decline of 429 rental units during the previous week, while the rental inventory subindex rose from a score of 86.6 to 88 out of 100. As of this week, rental availability remains about 1,500 units short of the pre-pandemic average for this time of year. The city’s rental market would require several more weeks of notable increases to close the gap and ensure a full recovery.
Subway Ridership Rebounds
Subway ridership levels witnessed an encouraging increase for the week ended October 8, with ridership rising to 36.5% below its pre-pandemic level, from 38% down last week. In turn, the subway mobility subindex score rose to 63.5 out of 100. The MTA reported a seven-day average ridership figure of 3.05 million. Throughout the ongoing recovery, weekly subway ridership has never exceeded two-thirds of its pre-pandemic level, or 33% down. The city’s subway network would require several more weeks of sustained increases to rise above this threshold, and inch closer toward a full recovery.
Restaurant Reservations Backtrack
New York City restaurants experienced a notable decline in reservations for the week ended October 8. The trailing seven-day average of reservations declined to 37% below its pre-pandemic average, from 35% down in the previous week. In turn, the restaurant reservations subindex score declined to 63 out of 100, and is now the second worst-performing measure within the aggregate index. This week’s decline brought the number of weekly reservations back to levels last seen in early September, eliminating any gains experienced over the past six weeks. The city’s restaurant industry continues to underperform, and would need sustained and consistent increases in reservations in order to fully recover.
Among the nation’s largest cities, only New York and Los Angeles have seen increases in reservation levels since Labor Day, with reservations across the two metros rising by 1.9% and 1%, respectively, over the past six weeks. Despite this, New York City restaurants continue to lag well behind their peers in other large cities with respect to reservation gains. Restaurants in Washington D.C., Chicago, and particularly Los Angeles have all recovered a greater percentage of their reservation losses due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, restaurants in Houston have fully recovered all their pandemic-related losses, with reservations now 8.7% above 2019 levels.