Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 56 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published September 13, 2021. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.
New York City’s economic recovery index remained at a score of 77 as of September 4, as slowing home sales and a rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations offset progress in other measures like unemployment and subway ridership.
This week, New York’s public schools reopen their doors to roughly one million returning students, with no remote option currently available. The online system for COVID-19 health screenings that families are now required to submit each day crashed around 8 a.m. Monday morning as parents around the city attempted to log on.
On Sunday, the day before, parents and city workers rallied outside of City Hall to protest the absence of support for continued online public education options. While teachers and other school personnel in New York City have until September 27 to be vaccinated for COVID-19, most students are not required to get the shot.
New York City’s 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 a year and a half into the pandemic, NYC’s economic recovery is nearly four-fifths of the way back to early March 2020 levels.
COVID-19 Hospitalizations Rise
After falling for several weeks, COVID-19 hospitalizations increased as of Sept. 4, rising to a rolling seven-day average of 93 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, two more than the week before. The CDC projects that virtually all or over 99% 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 1,054,705 cases and 34,001 deaths were recorded in New York City as of Sept. 13.
As of Sept. 12, New York State has fully vaccinated approximately 61.97% 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 Verywell Health.
Unemployment Claims Fall
Although the city’s unemployment index experienced significant setbacks last week, the index bounced back to only 24% above pre-pandemic levels as of Sept. 4, down from 42% the week prior, marking near all-time pandemic lows. It was also the second time the index achieved a score above 80 since the onset of the pandemic. If the unemployment index can continue to fend off the impacts of rising COVID-19 hospitalizations and pandemic-related restrictions, a full recovery could be on the horizon this fall.
Home Sales Drop
The city’s home buying market is still running higher than pre-pandemic levels, however, the home sales index fell by 11 points as of Sept. 4 due to a sizable decline of 56 fewer home sales this week, for a total of 496, compared to 327 for the same week in 2019. Sales in Manhattan are up 62% compared to 2019 levels, while Brooklyn is up 56.3%, and sales in Queens are up 48.6%.
Rental Market Effectively Recovered
New York City’s rental index rebounded from last week’s temporary lows as of Sept. 4, to settle at a score of 94. After nearly two months of index readings in the 90s, the rental market has stabilized near a full recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic shock. However, the measure could fade as the market’s seasonal highs come to an end going into October.
Subway Ridership Climbs Despite Flooding
Subway ridership posted a slight increase as of Sept. 4, despite severe flooding just days earlier, as Hurricane Ida brough heavy rains to New York City on Sept. 1. With the seven-day rolling average hovering at 51.7% below pre-pandemic ridership, the measure continues to stagnate at or near the halfway point to recovery, but could progress over the next few weeks as schools and universities welcome students back. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) estimated a trailing seven-day average of close to 2.05 million riders on public transport.
Restaurant Reservations Decline
The city’s restaurant reservation index moved even further away from recovery as of Sept. 4, as reservations went from 52.5% to 53.4% below 2019 levels, according to OpenTable estimates. Like subway ridership, restaurant reservations have stagnated around the 50% mark for several weeks, and could be slow to rebound as COVID-19 hospitalizations rise and vaccination requirements for diners continue.