Editor’s note: Below you’ll find the week 106 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published September 13, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.
New York City’s economic recovery made strong gains in the week ending September 4, 2022, as the index score rose to a score of 76 out of 100, recovering all its losses from the prior week. The index score was boosted by a steep decline in unemployment claims and COVID-19 hospitalizations. Subway ridership also recorded a slight gain. On the downside, home sales and restaurant reservations ticked lower compared to the previous week.
New York City’s economic recovery stands at a score of 76 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 just over three-quarters of the way back to pre-pandemic levels.
COVID-19 Hospitalizations Plummet
The COVID-19 hospitalization rate in New York City fell sharply for the week ended September 4, declining for the seventh consecutive week as hospitalizations continue to subside. The trailing seven-day average declined to 87 hospitalizations per day, down from 102 over the prior week. While hospitalization rates have fallen considerably in recent weeks, they remain nearly five times above their post-winter-wave lows recorded in mid-March.
The CDC continues to project that 100% of new infections in the region are omicron-related. The BA.5 subvariant is responsible for an overwhelming share of new infections, accounting for an estimated 85.8% of new cases. The BA.4.6 variant follows with 11.2%, while the BA.4 variant accounts for the lowest share at just 1.8%.
As of September 12, 79.6% of New York City residents had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to NYC Health & Hospitals data, unchanged from the previous week. Since the start of the pandemic two-and-a-half years ago, nearly 2.84 million cases and 41,737 deaths resulting from COVID-19 have been recorded in the city.
Unemployment Claims Fall
The number of individuals filing unemployment insurance (UI) claims plunged by 3,000 during the week ended September 4. Total claims fell to 6,640 from nearly 10,000 over the previous week, while the pre-pandemic rolling average of claims—tracking the same week of 2019—rose by 160 claims. Unemployment claims fully restabilized this week, following a large seasonal increase last week. This week’s decline puts UI claims 3.9% below 2019 levels, bringing the index measure back into a full recovery.
Home Sales Inch Lower
Pending home sales fell by 89 for the week ended September 4, falling from 481 to 392 homes. Meanwhile, the pre-pandemic rolling average of home sales, tracking the same week of 2019, declined by just 13 homes. Despite the decline, home sales remain 19% above the pre-pandemic rolling average and are still considered fully recovered. Tracking home sales by borough, Brooklyn continues to have the highest sales growth relative to its 2019 baseline, with home sales 28.5% above their pre-pandemic baseline. Manhattan and Queens follow with sales 11.6% and 10.8% above their respective 2019 averages.
Rental Availability Continues to Fall
Rental vacancies continued to decline for the week ended September 4, extending the previous week’s downward trajectory. Total vacancies numbered 15,166, which is 602 units fewer than for the week ended August 27. Despite this, the rental inventory subindex still rose from 81.5 to 84 as the drop was lower than expected based on seasonality trends for this time of year. New York City’s rental market is still several thousand vacancies short of the typical pre-pandemic level.
Subway Ridership Rebounds
The MTA subway experienced a positive week in terms of ridership. Total ridership increased to 37% below its pre-pandemic baseline, after being down 38.8% last week. The increase caused a slight uptick in the subway mobility subindex, which rose to 63 out of 100. For the week, the MTA reported an average of 2.7 million daily riderships. While this week’s ridership gains did not fully recuperate the losses experienced last week, the subway could experience positive momentum in the weeks ahead as workers return to offices in greater numbers.
Restaurant Reservations Slide
Reservations at New York City’s restaurants declined for the second consecutive week, with the trailing seven-day average of reservations falling to 37.3% below the pre-pandemic baseline, from 36% below last week. In turn, the restaurant reservations subindex declined to 62 out of 100, and is now among the worst-performing measures within the aggregate index. The city’s restaurant industry has struggled in recent weeks, experiencing wide fluctuations over the summer months as short-term gains have not proven sustainable. With fall approaching, the city’s restaurants are still missing over one-third of their dining capacity from before the pandemic.
Looking at other large cities across the U.S., reservations at restaurants in several other major cities declined during the recent holiday weekend, with many experiencing a larger percentage loss compared to New York. Restaurants in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C. all lost a greater percentage of their diners compared to New York, with losses in the mid-to-high single digits. Meanwhile, reservations at Houston restaurants surged 14 percentage points over the holiday weekend and are now 20% above their pre-pandemic baseline.