Investing News

The New York City Recovery Index: September 19

Editor’s note: Below you’ll find the week 107 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published September 20, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.

New York City’s economic recovery had a positive week ending September 10, 2022, with the index score rising from 76 to 77 out of 100. COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to record steady declines, falling for the eighth consecutive week. Unemployment insurance claims recorded a large decline over the previous week, while rental vacancies rose substantially. Subway ridership also recorded a major week-over-week increase, while restaurant reservations ticked up slightly.

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

COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York City averaged 73 per day for the week ended September 10, down from 87 daily over the previous week. This marks the eighth consecutive week of declining hospitalizations, with the rate of decline accelerating this week. Although hospitalizations fell further, the current average is still over four times above the lows recorded in mid-March. The city would need at least three more weeks of similar-sized declines in order to reclaim this level.

The CDC continues to project that all new cases in the New York region are omicron-related. The BA.5 subvariant still accounts for an overwhelming share of new cases, or an estimated 82.7%. The BA.4.6 variant now accounts for 12.4% of new infections, while a new variant—labeled BF.7—accounts for just under 2% of cases.

As of September 15, 79.6% of New York City residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19—a share that is unchanged from the previous two weeks, according to NYC Health & Hospitals data. Since the start of the pandemic, over 2.5 million cases and 41,803 deaths have been recorded in the city.

Unemployment Claims Fall

The number of individuals filing unemployment insurance (UI) claims fell by 770 for the week ended September 10, totaling 5,870. Meanwhile, the pre-pandemic rolling average of claims, which tracks the equivalent week of 2019, declined by over 1,000 claims to total 5,890. As such, UI claims are effectively in line with the pre-pandemic rolling average for this time of year, with the index measure still considered fully recovered.

Home Sales Inch Lower

Pending home sales declined by a very slight amount for the week ended September 10, with sales falling by four homes and totaling 388. Meanwhile, the pre-pandemic rolling average of home sales was effectively unchanged compared to the previous week of 2019. Citywide home sales remain 18% above their pre-pandemic rolling average, and are still considered fully recovered. By borough, Queens has now surpassed Manhattan and Brooklyn with respect to cumulative gains since 2019. Home sales in Queens are now 23.6% above their pre-pandemic baseline. Sales in Manhattan and Brooklyn are 19.6% and 16% above their pre-pandemic averages, respectively.

Rental Vacancies Jump

Citywide rental vacancies recorded a large increase for the week ended September 10, with total vacancies rising by 849, reaching 16,015. As a result, the rental inventory subindex rose over three percentage points, from 84.5 to 87.8. This week’s result marks the best for the city’s rental market since December of last year, and the city’s rental market is only about 1,500 units short of the pre-pandemic average for this time of year.

Subway Ridership Surges

Subway ridership recorded a major increase for the week ended September 10, rising to 33.3% below the pre-pandemic baseline, compared to 37% below last week. In turn, the subway mobility subindex score rose to 67 out of 100. Increasing numbers of workers and daily commuters returning to the office likely boosted ridership in the week following Labor Day, but it remains to be seen whether this trend will continue over the upcoming weeks. The MTA reported 2.78 million average daily riderships for the week ended September 10.

The immediate post-Labor Day period saw consistent ridership gains for all modes of public transportation in New York City, with the largest gains recorded for the Long Island (LIRR) and Metro North Railroads. Ridership for the LIRR rose by six percentage points, reaching 80% of its pre-pandemic baseline, while Metro North ridership rose by a very encouraging 11.2 percentage points, to 79% of its pre-pandemic average. Bridge and tunnel traffic is now 2% greater than its pre-pandemic baseline, gaining 2.5 percentage points over the past week.

Restaurant Reservations Tick Higher

Reservations at New York City restaurants rose slightly during the week ended September 10, rising to 37% below their pre-pandemic baseline, from 37.3% below for the prior week. In turn, the restaurant reservations subindex rose to 63 out of 100. Reservation levels have stabilized in recent weeks, following large swings during the summer months, but continue to lag their pre-pandemic level by over a third.