The New York City Recovery Index: September 5

Tracking NYC's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic

Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 105 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published September 6, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.

New York City’s economic recovery backtracked significantly for the week ending August 27, 2022, with the index score declining nearly six percentage points to 70 out of 100. The sole positive developments came from a decline in the COVID-19 hospitalization rate, along with an increase in citywide home sales. The decline in the overall index score was led by a steep increase in filings for unemployment insurance (UI) claims, as the UI claims subindex plunged nearly 27 percentage points. Rental vacancies, subway ridership, and restaurant reservations all experienced meaningful corrections, losing their momentum from recent weeks.

New York City’s economic recovery stands at a score of 70 out of 100, according to the New York City Recovery Index, a joint project between Investopedia and NY1. Over two years into the pandemic, New York City’s economic recovery is seven-tenths of the way back to pre-pandemic levels.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Continue to Decline

The COVID-19 hospitalization rate in New York City declined for the sixth consecutive week, falling to an average of 102 hospitalized people per day, compared to 110 during the previous week. Hospitalization rates have remained on a steady downward trajectory in recent weeks, after peaking at 163 average daily hospitalizations during the week ended July 16. Despite recent declines, hospitalizations remain over five times higher than the post-winter-wave low of 18 hospitalizations recorded in early March.

The CDC continues to project that virtually all new cases in the New York region are omicron-related. As of September 3, over 87% of new infections were attributed to the BA.5 subvariant, which has become the dominant strain nationwide in recent months. By comparison, the BA.4.6 and BA.4 subvariants were responsible for just 10.6% and 2.3% of new infections, respectively. Meanwhile, the BA.2.12.1 strain, which was the most prevalent strain earlier this year, has been nearly fully eliminated and constitutes just 0.1% of recent infections.

The share of fully vaccinated city residents ticked slightly higher this week, reaching 79.6% of the city’s population, according to NYC Health & Hospitals data. Since the start of the pandemic, over 2.82 million cases and 41,640 deaths have been recorded in New York City.

Unemployment Claims Surge

The number of individuals filing unemployment insurance (UI) claims surged for the week ended August 27. Total claims rose by 3,200, reaching 9,640 compared to 6,440 over the previous week. Meanwhile, the 2019 rolling average of claims, tracking the equivalent pre-pandemic week, increased by only 423 claims to 7,070. The unusually large increase in claims puts the current total 36.4% above the pre-pandemic rolling average, tracking the same week of 2019. In turn, the UI claims subidnex plunged 27 percentage points to 73 out of 100, after being considered fully recovered just a week prior.

This week’s increase in UI claims mainly took place in the outer boroughs and excludes Manhattan. UI claims filed in Manhattan, as a percentage of citywide claims, fell to about 13%, from 18.5% last week. The respective shares for the four remaining boroughs all rose, indicating a greater share of claims came from outside of Manhattan. As of August 27, Brooklyn had the largest share of claims among the five boroughs, accounting for 32.5% of the city’s jobless claims filed over the past week.

Home Sales Rise Slightly 

Pending home sales in New York City rose slightly for the week ended August 27, with week-over-week home sales rising by 53, totalling 481. By comparison, the 2019 rolling average of sales, tracking home sales for the equivalent pre-pandemic week, declined by 24. Home sales are now 41% above their pre-pandemic baseline, and as such, the index measure is considered fully recovered. By borough, Brooklyn has retaken the top spot, with home sales 49% above their 2019 baseline. Manhattan and Queens follow with gains of 40.6% and 28.9%, respectively.

Rental Availability Declines Further

New York City’s rental market had 15,768 available residences for the week ended August 27, which is 746 fewer than the previous week. In turn, the rental inventory subindex score declined to 81 out of 100, from 83 last week. This week’s decline pushed the number of available vacancies back to early July levels, with the city’s rental market about 2,000 vacancies short of the typical pre-pandemic average for this time of year.

Subway Ridership Experiences a Correction

The MTA subway witnessed a notable decline in ridership for the week ending August 27, with ridership falling to 38.9% below its pre-pandemic baseline, compared to 36.8% below last week. As a result, the subway ridership subindex fell back to 61 out of 100, and is the second worst-performing measure within the aggregate index. With summer drawing to a close, ridership may receive a boost over the upcoming weeks as a greater number of daily commuters return to the office and ride the subway to work.

Restaurant Reservations Backtrack

This week brought a notable decline in reservations at New York City’s restaurants, which fell to 36% below their pre-pandemic baseline, from 32.3% down last week. The restaurant reservations subindex fell four percentage points to 64 out of 100, with the city’s restaurants still missing over one-third of their diners from before the pandemic. With the fall season approaching, the outlook for New York’s restaurant industry appears uncertain.

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