The New York City Recovery Index: October 25

Tracking NYC's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic

Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 62 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published October 26, 2021. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.

New York City’s economic recovery index registered a new record high as of Oct. 16, though its growth rate slowed from the week before, as the index rose by one point to 82. It was also the second straight week the index registered a score above 80 since the onset of the pandemic. A dramatic reduction in unemployment claims and COVID-19 hospitalizations helped push the index higher, while setbacks in subway ridership and restaurant reservations held the score back from posting more gains.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last week that the city would reinstate its ban on propane heaters to warm outdoor dining spaces this winter, due to concerns about fire safety and sustainability. The city had temporarily lifted it last year as pandemic-related restrictions limited indoor dining so bars and restaurants could serve patrons outdoors. Heading into the colder winter season, that ban could put an even greater damper on restaurant dining reservations.

New York City’s recovery stands at a score of 82 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 Decline

COVID-19 hospitalization rates scaled back considerably as of Oct. 16, falling to a rolling seven-day average of 49 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, 10 fewer than the week before. While a marked improvement from highs in January of this year, that is still over double hospitalization rates from earlier this summer in June and early July.

The CDC continues to project 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 1,116,194 cases and 34,531 deaths were recorded in New York City as of Oct. 26.

As of Oct. 25, New York State has fully vaccinated approximately 66.5% of its broader population according to CDC data and analysis by Verywell Health.

Unemployment Claims Fall

The city’s rate of unemployment claims improved significantly as of Oct. 16, falling over 20 percentage points to an estimated 40% above pre-pandemic levels. While higher than just a few weeks earlier, when claims came within 25% of a full recovery, the measure’s current streak of week-over-week progress could point to more improvement ahead. At 8.9%, the NYC unemployment rate is also over double that of other counties in New York State like Westchester, Suffolk, and Nassau. 

Home Sales Beat Seasonal Declines

While the number of pending home sales in New York City decreased by 41 homes as of Oct. 16, it still outpaced the same period in 2019, boosting the city’s home sales index by close to two points. Sales in the city are up roughly 75% from pre-pandemic levels. By borough, sales in Manhattan are up 74.5% compared to pre-pandemic levels, while sales figures in Brooklyn are up 66.2% and Queens is up 24.6%.

Rental Market Tightens

A decrease of 545 available residences led to a slight contraction in New York City’s rental market, causing the index to fall two points to a score of 87. With a total of 15,910 residences on the market as of Oct. 16, 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 being held back primarily by a lack of available units. 

Setbacks in Subway Ridership

Subway ridership experienced some setbacks as of Oct. 16, moving from 44.3% back to near 45% below pre-pandemic levels. The measure continues to linger relatively close to the 50% mark it hovered at for several months, leaving significant room for improvement. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) estimated a trailing seven-day average of close to 2.65 million riders on public transport.

Restaurant Reservations Wane

The city’s restaurant reservation index lost some of its momentum, as reservations edged from 42.7% to 43.6% below 2019 levels as of Oct. 16, according to OpenTable estimates. Like subway ridership, restaurant reservations had lingered in a sustained lull near the 50% mark for several months, and have struggled to break the trend. With a ban on propane heaters to warm outdoor dining spaces back in effect for the winter season, restaurants could be headed for a sustained lull in reservations. 

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  1. NYC Health. "Total Data."

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