Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 58 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published September 28, 2021. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.
New York City’s economic recovery index experienced a slight increase the week of Sept. 18, rising from an overall score of 71 to 72 after falling by as much as six points the week before. A partial rebound in home sales and muted progress in the city’s unemployment index helped push the index in the positive direction, as most other measures including subway ridership and restaurant reservations stayed relatively constant from the week before.
On Sept. 27, a federal appeals panel upheld COVID-19 vaccine mandates for New York City public school employees, overturning last week’s movement to block the mandate after four educators sued. The deadline for inoculation has been postponed to Oct. 4, and while city officials estimate that over 95% of educators will have been vaccinated, the remaining pool of unvaccinated teachers could number over 10,000. Mayor Bill de Blasio has stated that the city will draw from pools of substitute teachers to account for the difference.
Pushback against vaccine mandates is expected to exacerbate staffing shortages in other industries as well, as the state of New York plans to bring in members of the National Guard to help replace unvaccinated health care workers.
New York City’s recovery stands at a score of 72 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 Contract
COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to decline as of Sept.18, falling to a rolling seven-day average of 82 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, two 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 1,080,675 cases and 34,208 deaths were recorded in New York City as of Sept. 28.
As of Sept. 27, New York State has fully vaccinated approximately 63.77% 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
Unemployment claims fell from 60% to 56% above pre-pandemic levels as of Sept. 18. Though the figure represented a sizable improvement from rates at the beginning of this year, it was still much higher than two weeks ago, when claims came within just 25% of a full recovery. As one of the more volatile components of the index, with large swings in weekly claims, the unemployment index has yet to exhibit a sustained trend toward recovery.
Home Sales Jump
Pending home sales in New York City went up by 47 homes as of Sept. 18, recovering almost 6 of the nearly 30 points lost the week before. Despite falling below its highs earlier this year, the city’s home market is still running above pre-pandemic levels, with sales roughly 30% higher than they were over the same period in 2019. By borough, sales in Manhattan are up 69% compared to pre-pandemic levels, while sales figures in Brooklyn are up 13% and sales in Queens are up 16%.
Rental Market Unchanged
New York City’s rental index remained unchanged at a score of 90 as of Sept. 18. After nearly two months of index readings in the 90s, and with most of the remaining 10 points withheld due to an undersupply of vacancies, the tight rental market has effectively stabilized near a full recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic shock.
Subway Ridership Stagnates
Subway ridership did not change significantly as of Sept. 18, as the seven-day rolling average moved less than a percentage point from 47.1% to 47.6% below pre-pandemic levels. One of the stickiest measures in the index, subway ridership has hovered within a few points of the 50% mark for most of the summer. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) estimated a trailing seven-day average of close to 2.57 million riders on public transport.
Restaurant Reservations At Standstill
The city’s restaurant reservation index hardly budged as of Sept. 18, as reservations edged from 49.17% to just 49.74% below 2019 levels, according to OpenTable estimates. Like subway ridership, restaurant reservations have lingered near the 50% mark for several months with few signs of improvement as COVID-19-related business restrictions like the “Key to NYC” remain in effect, and the city is still considered a “very high risk” area for COVID-19 risk according to CDC guidelines.