Editor’s note: Below you’ll find the week 84 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published April 12, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.
New York City’s economic recovery index rose marginally in the week ending April 2, 2022, with an increase from a score of 75 to 76 out of 100. Positive developments were recorded for both the unemployment claims and rental market subcomponents of the index, as claims declined sharply. Meanwhile, COVID-19 hospitalizations, subway ridership, and restaurant reservations worsened relative to the prior week. This marks the third consecutive weekly increase in COVID-19 hospitalization rates in New York City, amid an uptick in cases in the region.
New York City’s 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. Just over two years into the pandemic, New York City’s economic recovery is about three-quarters of the way back to pre-pandemic levels.
COVID-19 Hospitalizations Continue to Rise
COVID-19 hospitalization rates rose for a third consecutive week in New York City, with the trailing seven-day average now reaching 29.5 hospitalizations per day, six more than the previous week. Hospitalization rates in the city have climbed in recent weeks, after nine consecutive weeks of decline from January through mid-March, as the Omicron wave receded. A concerning possibility is that COVID-19 infection rates may have already bottomed out last month, with infection rates having increased since. According to NYC Health data, the seven-day average of new cases rose to 1,887 cases as of April 9, after bottoming out at 597 new cases on March 6.
The CDC continues to project that 100% of new cases in the New York region (which includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) are omicron-related, with the growing BA.2 strain of the virus accounting for 85% of new cases. The share of fully-vaccinated residents in New York City rose to 77.8% as of April 12, according to NYC Health data. The city has recorded a total of 2.33 million COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, along with 40,118 deaths.
Unemployment Insurance Claims Fall
The city’s labor market was a bright spot in this week’s report, as unemployment insurance claims decreased by 440 claims, falling from 5,560 to 5,120. This caused the UI subindex to rise, providing the largest contribution to the gain in the overall index. Unemployment insurance claims are now 2.3% below the 2019 rolling average of claims, tracking the same week of 2019. With this week’s improvement, UI claims have fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels, and the uptick in hospitalizations appears to have had no effect on claims.
Home Sales Decline Modestly
Home sales fell by 53 sales in the week ending April 2, reaching 723 pending sales compared to 776 in the previous week. By comparison, the rolling average over the same period in 2019 rose by 11 from 431 to 442. Despite the decline, home sales remain considerably above pre-pandemic levels, buoyed by a strong national housing market and high demand. The housing subindex currently exceeds the pre-pandemic level by 63%. By borough, Manhattan leads with home sales 72.6% above the pre-pandemic level, followed by Brooklyn and Queens with gains of 55.7% and 53.9%, respectively.
Rental Availability Rises
The number of rentals available on the market rose by 326 compared to the previous week, for a total availability of 13,107 rentals. This compares to a decline of 75 rentals in the week ending March 26, and the first gain in over three weeks. Despite this, the rental availability subindex remains at just 78% of the pre-pandemic level, similar to the overall recovery index. The number of available rentals lagged 2019 levels by several thousand units. New York City typically experiences a seasonal increase in the retail vacancy rate during the early weeks of spring.
Subway Ridership Declines
Subway ridership declined modestly in the week ending April 2. Subway ridership remains 40.9% below the pre-pandemic level, with the subway ridership subindex at roughly 59 out of 100. With the pace of ridership gains stagnating in recent weeks, ridership has not improved substantially from pre-omicron levels in the fall of 2021. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) reported a trailing seven-day average of 2.84 million riders for the week.
Restaurant Reservations Drop
Restaurant reservations experienced a second consecutive weekly decline, falling from 40.5% to 41.5% below the pre-pandemic level. As with subway ridership, gains in restaurant reservations appear to be stagnating, with little improvement relative to pre-omicron levels. Restaurant activity remains considerably below pre-pandemic levels, leaving the restaurant reservations subindex considerable ground to recover. Warmer weather over coming weeks, and especially heading into May, could bring more restaurant and outdoor dining activity.
New York City lags considerably behind other major U.S. cities in the recovery of its restaurants from the pandemic. Reservations in Houston have fully recovered from the pandemic, with reservations 10% higher than their pre-pandemic baseline. Elsewhere in the U.S., Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington D.C. have reservation levels 13%, 20%, and 32% below their pre-pandemic baselines, respectively. Each of these figures is considerably more favorable than the current NYC level of 40.9% below 2019 levels, pointing to a comparatively slow recovery for New York City’s restaurant industry.