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The New York City Recovery Index: October 3

Editor’s note: Below you’ll find the week 109 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published October 4, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.

New York City’s economic recovery experienced a positive week ending September 24, 2022, with the index score rising one percentage point to 76 out of 100. The COVID-19 hospitalization rate resumed its decline, with hospitalizations falling slightly over the previous week. Unemployment claims fell by a large margin, nearly returning to their pre-pandemic baseline. The city’s real estate market experienced a setback, with rental vacancies lower for the week, while home sales rose by less than their 2019 rolling average. Subway ridership had a slight correction, while restaurant reservations declined after two consecutive weeks of gains.

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 Resume Decline

The COVID-19 hospitalization rate in New York City fell slightly for the week ended September 24, resuming its downward trend after rising for the first time in over two months last week. On average, 73 people were hospitalized daily, compared to 75 for the week ended September 17. The current rate matches the hospitalization rate from two weeks ago, indicating that progress on the city’s health recovery has slowed markedly in recent weeks, as hospitalizations remain at an elevated level.

Total hospitalizations are just over 300% above their post-winter-wave low of 18 daily hospitalizations recorded on March 12. The number of patients in intensive care units (ICUs) is 66% above its trough set on March 30. Further, the number of patients requiring intubation—likely due to more severe cases of COVID-19, is 47.6% above its post-winter wave low in early April. These numbers suggest that the trends for more serious cases of COVID-19, as represented by ICU arrivals and intubations, are slightly more favorable than total hospitalization figures would indicate.

The CDC continues to project that 100% of all current cases are omicron-related. The share of infections attributed to the BA.5 subvariant is steadily declining, recently accounting for 77.5% of new cases as of October 1. Meanwhile, the BA.4.6 variant accounted for 15% of the latest cases. The newest variant, BF.7, now accounts for 4.5% of new cases, with the share of infections attributed to the variant steadily rising in recent weeks.

The share of fully vaccinated New York City residents held steady this week at 79.7% of the city’s population, according to NYC Health & Hospitals data. Since the start of the pandemic over two-and-a-half years ago, over 2.88 million cases and 42,000 deaths have been recorded in the city.

Unemployment Claims Decline Steeply

The number of unemployment insurance (UI) claims filed citywide posted a large decline for the week ended September 24, nearly recovering from the steep increase in claims recorded over the previous week. Total claims fell by 740, from 6,400 to 5,660. Meanwhile, the 2019 rolling average of claims, which tracks the calendar-equivalent pre-pandemic week, declined by a more modest 66 claims to total 5,200. UI claims are now just 8.5% above their pre-pandemic rolling average, with the index component once again just short of a full recovery.

Citywide Home Sales Underperform

Pending home sales in New York City rose by 18 homes for the week ended September 24, totaling 446 sales. Despite this, the subindex score for pending home sales declined, as sales underperformed their pre-pandemic rolling average, which increased by 27 homes during the same week of 2019. The index measure remains fully recovered, with home sales still 26% above their 2019 rolling average. By borough, Manhattan continues to lead the other major boroughs in cumulative sales gains relative to 2019. This week, home sales in Manhattan were 47.8% above their pre-pandemic baseline, while sales in Queens and Brooklyn were 16.6% and 6.1% above their respective baselines.

Manhattan apartment sales declined 18% in the third quarter, according to a recent report by Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman, driven by rising mortgage rates and declining affordability. This marks the first quarterly decline in Manhattan apartment sales since the first three months of 2020, during the initial onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sales of luxury apartments—those costing upwards of $4 million—fell by 50% as wealthy buyers were hit by declining stock valuations and market losses. According to brokers, the dip in apartment sales marks a return to normalcy after an exceptionally strong 2021.

Rental Vacancies Reverse Lower

There were 16,125 available vacancies on the city’s rental market for the week ended September 24, a decline of 560 compared to the previous week. As a result, the rental inventory subindex declined to 88 out of 100, from a score of 90.5 last week. This week’s decline fully eliminated the previous week’s gains, putting the rental market on par with its level from two weeks ago. At current levels, the city’s rental market is about 1,500 vacancies short of the typical pre-pandemic average for this time of year.

Subway Ridership Increases Slightly

The city’s subway system had a slight increase in ridership for the week ended September 24. Ridership levels were about 35.1% below their pre-pandemic average for this time of year, compared to 35.5% down last week. In turn, the subway mobility subindex rose to a score of 65 out of 100. Nearly a month after the Labor Day holiday, there have been few, if any sustained increases in subway ridership, despite more workers returning to the office. For the week, the MTA reported a seven-day average of riderships at 3.23 million.

Restaurant Reservations Dip

Reservations at New York City’s restaurants had a noticeable decline this week, as the number of reservations fell to 35.6% below its pre-pandemic baseline, compared to 34.1% down last week. As a result, the restaurant reservations subindex fell to 64 out of 100. New York City restaurants are still missing over one-third of their diners from before the pandemic.