Tracking NYC’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic
New York City Recovery Index
New York City’s economic recovery stalled during the week ended October 1, as the overall index score remained unchanged at 76 out of 100. In a major reversal from recent weeks, the COVID-19 hospitalization rate rose by double digits, with hospitalizations once again on the uptrend. Home sales and rental vacancies fell, while subway ridership posted a steep correction. On a positive note, unemployment claims continued to decline this week, while restaurant reservations ticked up slightly.
COVID-19 Hospitalizations Reverse Higher
New York City witnessed a steep increase in its COVID-19 hospitalization rate this week, recording an average of 87 daily hospitalizations, 14 higher than the previous week’s average. After two months of progress, the city’s hospitalization rate is once again trending higher, rising back to levels last seen in early September.
The CDC continues to project that virtually all current cases are omicron-related, with the dominant BA.5 strain contributing to just under three-quarters, or 74.9%, of recent infections. The BA.4.6 subvariant recently accounted for 15.7% of infections, while the recently-formed BF.7 strain continued to account for a growing share of infections, at 5.7% of the total.
As of October 10, 79.7% of New York City’s population, or just under four-fifths of all residents were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to NYC Health & Hospitals data. Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 2.9 million cases and 42,071 deaths have been recorded in the city.
Unemployment Claims Continue to Fall
The number of unemployment insurance (UI) claims filed throughout the city fell for the second consecutive week. Total claims numbered 5,200, which is 460 fewer than the previous week’s total of 5,660. The pre-pandemic rolling average, which tracks the same week of 2019, posted a smaller decline of 134 claims, totaling 5,083. As such, the current number of claims is just over 2% above its pre-pandemic average for this time of year, with the UI claims subindex inching closer toward a full recovery.
Home Sales Decline
Pending home sales in New York City fell for the week ended October 1, declining by 57 homes from 446 to 389 homes sold. Meanwhile, the pre-pandemic rolling average rose by 9 homes, reaching 361 sales during the same week of 2019. As such, home sales are now only 7% above their pre-pandemic rolling average—down from 26% above last week—but remain fully recovered. This week, home sales in Queens were 27.5% above their pre-pandemic average for this time of year—the strongest outperformance among the major boroughs. Manhattan and Brooklyn followed with respective gains of 9.9% and 3.5%.
Rental Availability Declines
New York City’s rental market experienced a negative week, with total vacancies declining by 429 and totaling 15,696. The rental inventory subindex recorded a score of 86.6 out of 100, down from 88 last week. Adjusting for seasonal variation, this week’s decline was greater than expected for early fall.
Rental vacancies in Brooklyn posted the steepest decline among the major boroughs, falling nearly 5.4% compared to a week earlier. Declines in Manhattan and Queens were much less pronounced, with vacancies falling by 1.2% and 0.35%, respectively. Citywide, rental vacancies declined an average 2.7% from a week earlier.
Subway Ridership Suffers a Major Setback
Subway ridership experienced a steep correction for the week ended October 1, with ridership levels falling to 38% below their pre-pandemic rolling average, down from 35% below in the previous week. This week’s decline confirms a stagnant trend for subway ridership, and may have dashed hopes for a sustained, substantial recovery during the fall. For the week, the MTA reported a seven-day average of 2.96 million daily riderships.
Restaurant Reservations Tick Higher
Citywide restaurant reservations rose slightly for the week ended October 1. The seven-day rolling average of reservations measured 35.1% below its pre-pandemic average, up from a 35.6% loss for the previous week. This week’s increase marks a very slight improvement in the outlook for the restaurant industry, but doesn’t suggest any major gains in the weeks ahead.