Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 112 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published October 25, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.
New York City’s economic recovery experienced a positive week ending October 15. The index score rose four percentage points to 77 out of 100, recovering the entirety of its decline from the previous week and surpassing its level from two weeks ago. The COVID-19 hospitalization rate stabilized and is down slightly from the previous week. This week saw a big decline in the number of unemployment insurance (UI) claims, which fell back below pre-pandemic levels. Home sales gained slightly, while rental availability fell in a below-average week for the city’s real estate market. Subway ridership rose for the second consecutive week, while restaurant reservations surged to their highest level since late August.
New York City’s economic recovery stands at a score of 77 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 over three-quarters of the way back to pre-pandemic levels.
COVID-19 Hospitalizations Stabilize
COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York City stabilized at an average of 98 per day, just below last week’s average of 99 per day, but above a recent low of 73 per day recorded in late September. The reversal in hospitalizations this week marks a positive change compared to the previous two weeks, when the hospitalization rate rose by double digits. It’s also an encouraging sign for the city’s ongoing health recovery, indicating that the recent increases in hospitalizations may only be temporary.
The CDC continues to project that virtually all current cases are omicron-related. As of October 22, just under half, or 49.8% of all infections were attributed to the BA.5 subvariant, down from nearly 75% last week. Two newly-identified strains, labeled BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, now account for 17.1% and 11.3% of current cases in New York, respectively.
The share of fully vaccinated New York City residents continues to tick higher. As of October 25, just under four-fifths, or 79.8% of residents were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to NYC Health & Hospitals data. Since the start of the pandemic, a total of 2.92 million cases—confirmed and probable—have been recorded in the city, along with 42,480 deaths attributed to COVID-19.
Unemployment Claims Fall Steeply
The number of unemployment insurance (UI) claims filed throughout the city fell by 1,450 claims for the week ended October 15, numbering 5,230. By comparison, the 2019 rolling average of claims, which tracks the equivalent pre-pandemic week, rose by 110 claims to total 5,677. As such, UI claims are now 8% below their 2019 rolling average and are therefore considered fully recovered. After four straight weeks of UI claims exceeding pre-pandemic levels, the UI claims subindex is once again at a full recovery.
Home Sales Increase Slightly
Citywide pending home sales rose slightly for the week ended October 15. Sales increased by 19, rising to 421 homes sold, up from 402 last week. By comparison, the 2019 rolling average of sales fell by 9 homes, numbering 361. As such, the current level of home sales is 16% above its pre-pandemic rolling average, with the index measure remaining fully recovered. Broken down by borough, home sales in Queens continue to lead the other major boroughs, with home sales 30.2% above their pre-pandemic baseline. Sales in Manhattan were 24.4% higher, while sales in Brooklyn are now 3.2% below their pre-pandemic level.
Rental Availability Drops
There were 415 fewer residences available on New York City’s rental market for the week ended October 15, totaling 15,651 vacancies. As a result, the rental inventory subindex score declined by two percentage points, to 86 out of 100, down from 88 last week. This week’s result marks the worst for rental availability since the first week of September, just prior to the Labor Day holiday. After several weeks of upward momentum, the past two weeks have seen a discouraging reversal.
Subway Ridership Gains
MTA subway ridership experienced a solid gain for the week ended October 15, rising for the second consecutive week. The MTA reported 3.08 million daily riders, on average, for the week. The trailing seven-day average of riders rose to 35.7% below its pre-pandemic baseline, after lagging pre-pandemic levels by 36.5% in the previous week. With this week’s increase, ridership levels are edging closer to the key threshold of 33% down, which marks the best result so far for subway ridership during the ongoing recovery from the pandemic.
Looking at ridership for other modes of transit serving New York City, the city’s subway is lagging further behind the Metro North and Long Island Railroads in ridership gains. As of October 23, MTA subway ridership measured just 65.6% of its pre-pandemic level. Ridership for the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) was slightly higher, at 71.9% of its pre-pandemic baseline. The Metro North railroad saw the largest cumulative gains in ridership, at 81.7% of its pre-pandemic level.
Restaurant Reservations Surge
New York City’s restaurant industry experienced a very encouraging week, with reservations surging to 32.9% below their pre-pandemic baseline, up from a 37% loss last week. As a result, the restaurant reservations subindex score rose to 67 out of 100, with reservations now roughly one-third below their pre-pandemic baseline. This week’s result marks the most favorable for the city’s restaurant industry since late August, but is below the pandemic-era high of 25.4% down for the week ended July 2. The city’s restaurants would require several more weeks of similar-sized gains to break past this level.