The New York City Recovery Index: September 20

Tracking NYC's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic

Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 57 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published September 22, 2021. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.

New York City’s economic recovery index took a substantial hit the week of Sept. 11, falling from an overall score of 77 to 71. A drop in home sales and an increase in unemployment claims were primarily to blame, as other measures including subway ridership and restaurant reservations registered slight gains.

As many students at New York City public schools head back for their second week of in-person instruction, the city is raising its COVID-19-related testing standards, after reports of new outbreaks. Less than a week after opening its doors, one public school in East Harlem said it would fully transition to remote instruction after encountering dozens of new cases of COVID-19. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that going forward, the city would raise the frequency of COVID-19 testing to a weekly rather than biweekly basis.

New York City’s recovery stands at a score of 71 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 just under three-quarters of the way back to early March 2020 levels.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Drop

After a slight increase the week before, COVID-19 hospitalizations resumed their downward trend as of Sept.11, falling to a rolling seven-day average of 84 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, nine less than the week before. 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 1,069,333 cases and 34,102 deaths were recorded in New York City as of Sept. 21.

As of Sept. 21, New York State has fully vaccinated approximately 62.95% 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 14 out of 50 states, districts, and territories, according to Verywell Health.

Unemployment Claims Grow

After coming within 25% of a full recovery, unemployment claims swelled up to 60% above pre-pandemic levels as of Sept. 11. However, claims are unlikely to linger if past weeks are any indication of future behavior. The unemployment index has yet to stabilize, as it continues to swing from highs to lows on a weekly basis. 

Home Sales Tumble

Pending home sales in New York City dropped dramatically as of Sept. 11, losing nearly 30 points in a single week, as sales declined by 102 homes from the week before. However, the home buying market is still running above pre-pandemic levels, with sales roughly 23% higher than they were over the same period in 2019. By borough, sales in Manhattan are up 42% compared to pre-pandemic levels, while sales figures in Brooklyn are relatively even and sales in Queens are down 6%.

Rental Market Tightens

New York City’s rental index lost four points as of Sept. 11, settling at a score of 90 due to excessive tightness in the market, as the number of available residences continues to fall. After nearly two months of index readings in the 90s, and with most of the recent decline due to a lack of vacancies, the rental market has effectively stabilized near a full recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic shock. 

Subway Ridership Rises

Subway ridership advanced substantially as of Sept. 11, as the seven-day rolling average moved from 51.7% to 47.1% below pre-pandemic levels. After several weeks of stagnation at or near the 50% mark, the improvement could be a sign of more gains to come 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 2.16 million riders on public transport.

Restaurant Reservations Tick Upward

The city’s restaurant reservation index moved slightly closer to recovery as of Sept. 11, as reservations edged from 53.4% to 49.17% below 2019 levels, according to OpenTable estimates. Like subway ridership, restaurant reservations stagnated around the 50% mark over the past few weeks, leaving significant room for improvement as COVID-19 hospitalizations begin to decline. 

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  1. NYC Health. "Total Data."

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