The New York City Recovery Index: October 5, 2020

Tracking NYC's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic


The latest reading of the New York City Recovery Index out of a possible score of 100.

Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 11 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published Oct 5, 2020. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.

As New York City braces itself for a potential second wave of COVID-19 from colder weather, indoor dining and school reopenings, the recovery index took a dip this week, registering 46.1 out of 100. The five-point decrease is due in large part to declining pending home sales week-over-week, as well as a slight increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations. This week will be pivotal for the New York City economy as most public schools open for the first time and subways start to fill up during rush hours.

Unfortunately, the city is yet to see notable recovery in unemployment claims, restaurant reservations, or subway usage—three key economic indicators in NYC Recovery Index. As schools continue partial reopenings, restaurants begin partial indoor dining and some city workers return to their offices, New York’s recovery will be heavily impacted by its ability to contain new COVID-19 hotspots in select communities, and among students and diners congregating indoors. 

COVID-19 Hospitalizations See a Slight Increase

While we’ve yet to see major city-wide spikes in hospitalizations since the spring, the week of September 26 week saw a 0.6 point drop in the COVID index, due to a small increase in hospitalizations. Residents and the medical community alike will be monitoring changes closely, as nine zip codes across Brooklyn and Queens recorded coronavirus cases above a 3% positivity rate over the last seven days. 

Unemployment Claims Slightly Down 

Though New York City is still recording a 684% increase in unemployment claims year-over-year, last week did see a small decrease in the number of initial claims filed compared to the previous week. Over 39,000 residents filed for first time unemployment insurance benefits during the week of September 26, as New York City remains the hardest hit labor market in New York State. The unemployment rate in New York City stood at 16% in August—the latest date available—down from 19.9% in July. It is more than twice as high as the country’s overall unemployment rate.

Pending Home Sales are Down 

Though pending home sales last week were slightly above last year’s, with 431 homes going into contract, they did see a small decrease from the week prior. The gains, according to StreetEasy, are led by Brooklyn and Queens, where pending sales are up 20% and 29% respectively, year-over-year.

StreetEasy Economist Nancy Wu suggests that recent year-over-year increases are led by long-time renters-turned-buyers who are looking to invest in more space. Notably, Manhattan sales are down -7% year-over-year.

Restaurant Reservations Still Sluggish

Despite a slight 1.5 point increase in restaurant reservations tracked by OpenTable, they are still down nearly 80% from the same period last year. The opening of partial indoor dining for some restaurants helped boost the index, but colder weather may have just shifted some would-be outdoor diners inside for the first time. An estimated 1000 restaurants have closed in New York City since March, according to Yelp, and many more are on life-support.

Subway Usage Remains Stagnant

Turnstile swipes across NYC remained relatively unchanged, seeing only a 0.2 point increase last week. Usage remains at only 28% compared to ridership pre-COVID, as many students and office workers have yet to return to their daily commutes. That changes this week as most public schools reopen to students several days a week for blended learning.

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