Editor's note: Below you'll find the week 55 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published September 8, 2021. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.

New York City’s economic recovery index took a slight hit as of August 28, falling three points to a score of 77, after hitting a new pandemic high last week. Setbacks in the city’s unemployment claims held the index back, as well as declines in restaurant reservations and subway ridership. Meanwhile, home sales surged and COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to decline, though New York City remains a “high risk” area, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

On Sept. 6, Governor Kathy Hochul announced COVID-19 would be considered a risk to public health covered under New York State’s HERO Act, which requires employers to implement related work safety plans. As children return to schools in person, state health officials have also mandated all individuals entering school facilities wear masks. Other features of the city’s plans for raising school safety standards include increased ventilation and vaccine requirements for all school staff.

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 Decline

COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to decline as of Aug. 28, falling to a rolling seven-day average of 91 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, 14 fewer than the week before. The CDC projects that nearly 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 1,044,049 cases and 33,914 deaths were recorded in New York City as of Sept. 7.

As of Sept. 7, New York State has fully vaccinated approximately 61.3% 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 Rise

Most of the prior week’s progress in the New York City’s unemployment index dissipated as of Aug. 28, as the estimated UI claims relapsed from 21% to 42% above pre-pandemic levels, effectively where it was in early August. The rise could reflect the impacts of new pandemic-related restrictions on restaurants and businesses like the “Key to NYC” vaccination requirement, which took effect in mid August, and could continue to suppress employment gains.

Home Sales Running Hot

The city’s home sales index jumped eight points as of Aug. 28 despite a muted increase in sales, as home buying surpassed pre-pandemic levels by a sizable margin. 552 homes were pending sales over the past week, compared to 340 for the same week in 2019. Sales in Manhattan are up 78.5% compared to 2019 levels, while Brooklyn is up 61.2%, and sales in Queens are up 50%.

Too Few Rental Vacancies

New York City’s rental index tumbled as of Aug. 28, losing seven points to settle at a score of 90. Rather than stemming from a surge in vacancies, this week’s decline was caused by extremely low supply of available apartments. This tightness in the city’s rental market is likely to subside heading into the fall, however, as the summer’s peak season for lease turnovers comes to a close.

Subway Ridership Falls

Subway ridership tapered off as of Aug. 28, with the seven-day rolling average sliding from 48% to 53% below pre-pandemic ridership. The measure has stagnated at or near the halfway point since early July, with little sign of progress, as more companies in the New York Metro area postpone office reopening plans. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) estimated a trailing seven-day average of close to 2.04 million riders on public transport. 

Restaurant Reservations Drop

The city’s restaurant reservation index edged further away from recovery as of Aug. 28, as reservations slipped from 47% to 52.5% below 2019 levels, according to OpenTable estimates. Like subway ridership, restaurant reservations have stagnated close to 50% for several weeks, and could be slow to rebound, as new vaccination requirements for diners continue.