Investing News

The New York City Recovery Index: September 26

Editor’s note: Below you’ll find the week 108 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published September 27, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.

New York City’s economic recovery suffered a small setback for the week ended September 17, 2022, with the overall index score declining to 75 out of 100, from a score of 77 in the previous week. The COVID-19 hospitalization rate rose for the first time in over two months, while unemployment claims ticked up as well. The city’s real estate market improved slightly, as both home sales and rental vacancies increased. Subway ridership had a discouraging decline, while restaurant reservations rose for the second consecutive week.

New York City’s economic recovery stands at a score of 75 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 three-quarters of the way back to pre-pandemic levels.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Move Higher

COVID-19 hospitalizations reversed course this week, rising for the first time in over two months. Citywide hospitalizations rose slightly to an average of 75 per day, up from 73 during the previous week. Daily hospitalizations are still over four times above the post-winter-wave low of 18 recorded in mid-March, and this week’s upward reversal is a concerning sign for the city’s ongoing health recovery from the pandemic.

The CDC continues to project that 100% of new cases are omicron-related. As of Saturday, the BA.5 strain of omicron contributed to just under 80% of new infections, while the BA.4.6 strain accounted for 14.6%. A newly-identified strain, labeled BF.7, now accounts for 2.8% of cases and is expanding quickly.

The share of fully vaccinated residents ticked higher this week, reaching 79.7% of the city’s population, according to NYC Health & Hospitals data. Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 2.87 million cases and 41,902 COVID-19-related deaths have been recorded in New York City.

Unemployment Claims Increase

The number of individuals filing unemployment insurance (UI) claims rose for the week ended September 17. Total claims filed increased by 530, from 5,870 to 6,400, while the 2019 rolling average of claims—tracking the equivalent pre-pandemic week—declined by 607 claims and totaled 5,280. As such, UI claims are now 21% above their pre-pandemic rolling average, after being considered fully recovered only a week earlier.

Home Sales Record Gains

Citywide home sales increased by 40 for the week ended September 17, totaling 428 units sold. By comparison, the pre-pandemic rolling average of home sales, which tracks the same week of 2019, decreased by 4 homes to 325 units sold. In turn, home sales are now 31% above their pre-pandemic baseline and remain fully recovered. Manhattan now leads the major boroughs with respect to percentage gains from 2019, with home sales nearly 45% above their pre-pandemic baseline. Brooklyn follows with sales 36% higher, while home sales in Queens were 2.5% lower compared to the same week of 2019, falling below their pre-pandemic baseline.

Rental Availability Rises

There were 16,685 available vacancies on the city’s rental market for the week ended September 17, which is 670 more compared to the previous week. This week’s result marks the best for rental availability in about a year, with the rental inventory subindex rising to 90.5 out of 100. The past several weeks have seen notable gains in rental vacancies, putting the city’s rental market increasingly within reach of its pre-pandemic level. The city is now about 1,000 rentals short of its pre-pandemic average for this time of year.

While all three of the city’s largest boroughs saw increases in rental vacancies compared with the previous week, gains were strongest in Queens. Rental vacancies in Queens rose 6.7% week-over-week, while Manhattan and Brooklyn recorded gains of 3.8% and 3.9%, respectively. Citywide, rental vacancies increased by an average of just under 4.2%.

Subway Ridership Falters

Subway ridership experienced a discouraging decline for the week ended September 17, following a major gain during the previous week. As of September 17, the MTA recorded a trailing seven-day average of 3.16 million riderships. Ridership is now 35.5% below its pre-pandemic level, down from 33.2% last week. The subway mobility subindex declined in turn to 64.4 out of 100. The weeks to come will determine if any post-Labor Day gains in ridership will materialize.

Restaurant Reservations Extend Gains

Restaurant reservations rose for the second consecutive week, with the seven-day average of reservations booked rising to 34.1% below its pre-pandemic level, up from 37% below last week. The subindex score tracking restaurant reservations rose further to 66 out of 100. With this week’s gains, New York City’s restaurant industry is back to missing about a third of its diners from before the pandemic.