The New York City Recovery Index: October 4

Tracking NYC's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic

Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 59 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published October 5, 2021. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.

New York City’s economic recovery index expanded on some of the prior week’s positive momentum, climbing three points to a score of 75 for the week ended Sept. 25. A bump in home sales and slight gains in subway ridership and restaurant reservations helped raise the score, while the city experienced an uptick in unemployment claims.

Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York’s Open Restaurants outdoor dining program, which had been scheduled to end on Oct. 31, would become permanent. The Open Restaurants program estimates it has saved 90,000 jobs citywide.

New York City’s recovery stands at a score of 75 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 three-quarters of the way back to early March 2020 levels.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Decline

COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to fall as of Sept. 25, contracting to a rolling seven-day average of 76 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, six fewer than the week before. While the hospitalization rate remains low compared to the onset of the pandemic and the beginning of 2021, it remains several times higher than it was just a few months ago in June. A sharp reduction in cases would be required to make up for lost progress at the end of this summer.  

The CDC projects that roughly 98% 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 1,090,982 cases and 34,316 deaths were recorded in New York City as of Oct. 5.

As of Oct. 5, New York State has fully vaccinated approximately 64.61% of its broader population, and is on pace to fully vaccinate 70% by late October. In a national ranking of state vaccination efforts, New York State came in 13 out of 50 states, districts, and territories, according to CDC data and analysis by Verywell Health

Unemployment Claims Tick Upward

Unemployment claims jumped from 56% to 73% above pre-pandemic levels as of Sept. 25. It was a sizable setback from early September, when claims came within 25% of a full recovery. In addition to being one of the measures furthest from a full recovery, it also continues to be one of the more volatile components of the index, with frequent double-digit swings in weekly claims. 

Home Sales Surge

Pending home sales in New York City went up by another 48 homes as of Sept. 25, which raised the index by 25 points, effectively recovering from its nearly 30-point drop two weeks prior. The city’s home market is running significantly above pre-pandemic levels, with sales roughly 50% higher than they were over the same period in 2019. By borough, sales in Manhattan are up 36.2% compared to pre-pandemic levels, while sales figures in Brooklyn are up 18.3% and sales in Queens are up 20%.

Rental Market Undersupplied

New York City’s rental index dropped out of the 90s to a score of 85, as the market tightened even further by 1,240 units, creating a shortage of available residences. However, with most points withheld due to an undersupply of vacancies rather than lack of demand, the rental market has still effectively recovered from COVID-19 pandemic shocks. 

Subway Ridership Grows

Subway ridership came closer to breaking its midpoint streak as of Sept. 25, as the seven-day rolling average moved from 47.6% to 45.6 below pre-pandemic levels. The measure has hovered within just a few points of the 50% mark for most of the summer, and could be on its way to ditching the trend as schools reopen and more commuters take public transport. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) estimated a trailing seven-day average of close to 2.68 million riders on public transport. 

Restaurant Reservations Rise

The city’s restaurant reservation index also posted multi-point gains as of Sept. 25, as reservations moved from 49.74% to 47.46% below 2019 levels, according to OpenTable estimates. Like subway ridership, restaurant reservations have lingered in a sustained lull near the 50% mark for several months. Though COVID-19-related business restrictions like the “Key to NYC” remain in effect, the movement could foreshadow more to come in the next few weeks, as more students and workers resume activities in person. 

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  1. NYC Health. "Total Data."

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