Editor’s note: Below you’ll find the week 99 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published July 26, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.
New York City’s economic recovery surged forward for the week ending July 16, 2022, with the overall index score increasing by five points to 72 out of 100. Although COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to rise for the sixth consecutive week, stabilizing unemployment claims, increased rental vacancies, and a rise in both subway ridership and restaurant reservations helped the index recover from the setback last week.
New York City’s economic recovery stands at a score of 72 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 nearly three-quarters of the way back to pre-pandemic levels.
COVID-19 Hospitalizations Continue to Rise
The COVID-19 hospitalization rate in New York City rose for the sixth consecutive week, as the trailing seven-day average is now at about 163 hospitalized people per day, 41 more than last week. As COVID-19 hospitalizations have continued to rise for several weeks, the seven-day average of hospitalizations is now just over nine times higher than the post-winter-wave average of about 18 hospitalizations per day recorded in early March. The COVID-19 hospitalizations subindex declined further to 36.7 out of 100, remaining the worst-performing measure within the aggregate index.
The CDC continues to project that 100% of all new cases in New York City are omicron-related, with the BA.5 subvariant now making up an overwhelming share of all new infections. About 82.4% of all new cases in the region were attributable to the BA.5 subvariant, compared to 12.4% for the BA.4 subvariant, and just 5.1% for the older BA.2.12.1 strain.
The share of fully vaccinated New York City residents remains little changed from last week, with 79.1% of all residents fully immunized against COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic over two years ago, a total of 2,705,000 cases (confirmed and probable) have been recorded in the city, along with 41,023 deaths.
Unemployment Claims Stabilized
The number of unemployment insurance (UI) claims filed in New York City stabilized for the week of July 16, decreasing from last week’s high of 12,000 claims to 9,910. The rolling average of claims for the same week in 2019 also decreased, but only by 210 claims to 8,783, which puts the current claims nearly 13% above pre-pandemic levels, and bumping the subindex score back up to just over 86. Though it was a positive week for UI claims, there would need to be another decrease of approximately 2,000 claims next week to consider the unemployment claims subindex fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
Pending Home Sales Increase Slightly
Pending home sales across New York City increased slightly for the week ending July 16, as home sales are now back to 12.5% above pre-pandemic levels, recovering after last week’s major decline. This is because home sales increased by 71 homes from 412 to 483 week-over-week, while the 2019 rolling average over the same period only increased by 3 homes to 429, causing the subindex score to rise.
Though home sales are back above the pre-pandemic baseline, pending home sales still remain notably below levels seen for most of 2021 and 2022 (up until last week’s decline), when they were more than 50% above 2019 levels. This is an indicator that rising mortgage rates are continuing to affect homebuyers in New York City. By borough, Queens is back in the lead with pending home sales 23.3% above 2019 levels, with Brooklyn and Manhattan at 8.9% and 3.1%, respectively.
Rental Availability Continues To Rise
Rental vacancies in New York City rose again for the week ended July 16, with 16,389 residences on the market, which is 962 more than the week prior. The increase bumped the overall subindex score up to 82, which is the highest score recorded since mid-February, pushing the rental subindex closer to pre-pandemic levels.
Analyzing the increase in vacancies, rental inventory in Manhattan and Brooklyn over the past month seems to be growing faster compared to Queens. The number of rental vacancies in Manhattan increased 14.45% from last month, with Brooklyn and Queens following behind at 11.96% and 8.43%, respectively.
New data from real estate brokerage firm Douglas Elliman found that Manhattan’s median rental price soared to $4050 in June, 1.3% from May, and 24.7% from last year. The average rental price in the city reached $5,058 for the first time ever last month, representing a 29% change from June 2021.
Subway Ridership Gains Momentum
Subway ridership gained some ground for the week ended July 16, with the trailing seven-day average of riders now at 37.7% below pre-pandemic levels, compared to 43% down last week. The increase in ridership comes after three consecutive weeks of declines, pushing the subindex score up to 62.3—the best score recorded since the week of June 18, 2022. For the week ended July 16, the MTA recorded a trailing average of 2.75 million daily riderships.
Despite the week-over-week increase, overall ridership on New York City’s regional transit system is “not recovering as hoped” according to a report released last week by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. DiNapoli said that as ridership remains “well below pre-pandemic levels”, it has put the MTA in a difficult financial position as federal aid dwindles. “Unless there is an additional influx of city, state or federal aid, the MTA is facing stark options for closing its budget gaps that will impact riders,” DiNapoli said. These impacts could include service cuts, higher fares, and reduced staffing and maintenance on subways, buses, and the Metro-North and Long Island Railroad if the MTA is unable to close growing budget gaps.
Restaurant Reservations Surge
Restaurant reservations had a major increase for the week of July 16, with the seven-day trailing average soaring from 43.1% below 2019 levels last week, to 35.8% this week. This pushed the subindex score back up to just over 64, a positive week after last week’s correction. The summer dining scene in New York City has been volatile over the past month, with historic highs of 25.2% below to pandemic levels on July 4, to lows of 44.3% the week after on July 10, before reaching a middle ground this week. There would need to be another influx of diners similar to the numbers seen over the July 4th holiday for restaurant reservations to be considered fully recovered.
Besides an uptick in restaurant reservations in the city, Times Square has also experienced a rise in visitors, with pedestrian traffic at an average of 344,133 people per day in June, an increase of 103% from June 2021. This is the closest the average number of daily visitors to Times Square has been to pre-pandemic levels, just 13% below June 2019.