Editor’s note: Below you’ll find the week 87 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published May 3, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.
New York City’s economic recovery index declined in the week ending April 23, 2022, falling just over a point to close at 74 out of 100, with all major components of the index recording a weekly decline. COVID-19 hospitalization rates continued to rise, along with an uptick in unemployment insurance claims. Home sales, rental vacancies, subway ridership, and restaurant reservations all declined compared to the week of April 16. On a positive note, home sales and UI claims remain fully recovered, with pending home sales still considerably above pre-pandemic levels.
New York City’s economic recovery stands at a score of 74 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 under three-quarters of the way back to pre-pandemic levels.
COVID-19 Hospitalization Rates Rise
COVID-19 hospitalization rates continued to rise in the week ending April 23, increasing by 13 daily hospitalizations to reach a trailing seven-day average of 56 hospitalized people per day. This compares to a rate of increase of 5 hospitalizations recorded in the prior week, indicating that the current uptick could potentially lead to a more serious outbreak. On a percentage basis, hospitalizations rose 30% compared to the prior week, accelerating from a 13% rate of increase during the week of April 16.
The CDC continues to project that 100% of cases in the New York region (which includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) are attributable to the Omicron variant. The fast-growing BA.2.12.1 strain now accounts for 61.9% of new infections, with the New York region having the highest prevalence of this strain among all census regions tracked by the Department of Health & Human Services. According to NYC Health data, the share of fully vaccinated residents in the city continued to inch higher, with 78.1% of residents now fully inoculated against COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, over 2.38 million cases and 40,210 coronavirus-related deaths have been recorded in New York City.
Unemployment Insurance Claims Rise
The number of unemployment insurance claims citywide rose by 790 in the week ending April 23, recording an increase from 4,840 to 5,630 total claims. Despite the considerable increase, UI claims remain marginally below pre-pandemic levels, 0.7% below the rolling average of claims tracking the equivalent week of 2019. As such, this component of the index is still considered fully recovered.
Home Sales Decline Marginally
New York City pending home sales experienced a slight decline in the week ending April 23, falling by 13 from 705 to 692 total sales. Despite this development, home sales remain well above pre-pandemic levels, exceeding 2019 sales by 55%. Along with UI claims, the pending home sales subindex remains fully recovered. Breaking down the results by borough, Queens now leads the city average with home sales 84% above the pre-pandemic trailing average. Brooklyn and Manhattan follow with gain rates of 53% and 51%, respectively.
Rental Availability Declines Considerably
The number of available vacancies within the city’s rental market declined considerably for a second consecutive week, falling by 913 units. With this week’s significant decline of nearly 1,000 units, rental availability is nearly 4,000 units short of the pre-pandemic average for this time of year. Disappointingly, the decline arrives at a time when rental availability typically rises approaching the summer months.
Subway Ridership Reverses Gains
Ridership along the city’s subway network declined in the week ending April 23, after rising during the previous week. Subway ridership now stands at 41.5% below the pre-pandemic level, versus 40.4% for the previous update. The seven-day average of riderships now stands at 2.62 million, having declined from 2.75 million during the week of April 16.
Looking beyond the city’s subway, other sectors of NYC public transit have increased their ridership total at a faster rate since the beginning of March. The Metro North and Long Island Railroads (LIRR) have both witnessed their ridership expand at a faster rate over the past two months, rising by 24.4% and 19.6%, respectively. By comparison, subway ridership rose by a comparatively slower 14.4%. Bus ridership, along with bridge and tunnel traffic, rose the least during this period, increasing at a rate of 13.0% and 8.5%, respectively.
Restaurant Reservations Decline
Restaurant reservations declined in the week ending April 23, after recording a healthy gain over the prior week. Consequently, restaurant reservations are now 38.5% below pre-pandemic levels, compared to 37.6% below as of the previous update. Despite the recent pullback, restaurant reservations remain higher than the pre-Omicron baseline, with the seven-day average of reservations currently at its highest level since December 2021. The coming weeks may bring positive momentum for the city’s restaurants, with Mother’s Day approaching and warmer weather on the horizon.