The New York City Recovery Index: October 18

Tracking NYC's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic

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NYC Recovery Index
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Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 61 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published October 20, 2021. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.

New York City’s economic recovery index made sizable gains as of Oct. 9, jumping five points to a new record high score of 81, in the first week the index registered a score above 80 since the onset of the pandemic. A rebound in the city’s home sales, and continued progress in subway ridership and restaurant reservations helped push the score to new heights.

This week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all city workers. Under the new rules, they will be required to get their first shots by Oct. 29. Starting this week, they will also receive an extra $500 for getting vaccinated at city-run vaccination sites. The mandates and extra incentives are expected to boost vaccination rates, which have lagged near 60% at several key departments.

New York City’s recovery stands at a score of 81 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 roughly four-fifths of the way back to early March 2020 levels.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Stall

COVID-19 hospitalization rates hardly budged as of Oct. 9, hovering at a rolling seven-day average of 59 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, one more than the week before. While the rate is significantly lower from highs in January of this year, it remains roughly three times higher than lows reached in June and early July.

The CDC projects that roughly 99.5% 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 1,111,376 cases and 34,480 deaths were recorded in New York City as of Oct. 20.

As of Oct. 20, New York State has fully vaccinated approximately 66.04% of its broader population according to CDC data and analysis by Verywell Health

Unemployment Claims Unchanged

Unemployment claims remained at roughly 66% above pre-pandemic levels as of Oct. 9, after several weeks of pronounced swings, as one of the more volatile measures in the index. While still far from lows attained just a few weeks earlier, when claims came within 25% of a full recovery, stabilization of the rate could potentially lead to more incremental progress.

Home Sales Jump

In contrast to declines over the same period in 2019, pending home sales in New York City increased by 40 homes as of Oct. 9, boosting the city’s home sales index by a whopping nineteen points. Sales in the city are up roughly 73% from pre-pandemic levels, with 642 homes pending sales this last week compared to 369 for the same week in 2019. By borough, sales in Manhattan are up 82.7% compared to pre-pandemic levels, while sales figures in Brooklyn are up 87.8% and Queens is up 30.6%.

Tightness in Rental Market Eases

An increase of 1,006 available residences helped ease some of the tightness in New York City’s rental market, bringing the index back up four points to a score of 89. Though it is still challenged by a shortage of vacancies, the rental market continues to be one of the best-performing measures in the index, and has effectively recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Subway Ridership Rises

Subway ridership moved slightly in the positive direction as of Oct. 9, from roughly 45.5% to 44.3% below pre-pandemic levels. The measure continues to linger relatively close to the 50% mark it hovered near for several months, leaving significant room for improvement. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) estimated a trailing seven-day average of close to 2.73 million riders on public transport.

Restaurant Reservations Grow

The city’s restaurant reservation index posted another week of measured improvement as of Oct. 9, as reservations moved from 44.15% to 42.72% below 2019 levels, according to OpenTable estimates. Like subway ridership, restaurant reservations had lingered in a sustained lull near the 50% mark for several months, and could be on their way to breaking the trend if the new growth streak holds. 

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  1. NYC Health. "Total Data." Accessed October 20, 2021.