The New York City Recovery Index: April 4
Editor’s note: Below you’ll find the week 83 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published April 5, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.
New York City’s economic recovery index declined slightly in the week ending March 26, 2022, falling from 77 to a rounded score of 75. There were few positive developments in the latest report, with most index components registering a decline. The COVID-19 hospitalization rate and unemployment insurance claims both rose compared to the previous week, while subway ridership and restaurant reservations were stagnant. Rental market availability likewise registered a decline from the week ending March 19. Pending home sales were a bright spot in this week’s report though, with a week-over-week increase of 70 homes available on the market.
New York City’s recovery stands at a score of 75 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 three-quarters of the way back to pre-pandemic levels.
COVID-19 Hospitalizations Rise Again
The COVID-19 hospitalization rate rose for the second consecutive week, and the trailing seven-day average now stands at 23.5 hospitalizations daily, an increase of 3 per day from the week ending March 19. Despite the second consecutive increase, the city’s current hospitalization rate remains among the lowest since the onset of the pandemic, as new coronavirus cases have fallen considerably from the peak of the omicron wave in early January.
The CDC continues to project that 100% of new cases are omicron-related, with the fast-growing BA.2 strain now accounting for approximately 84% of new cases. The share of fully vaccinated residents in New York City rose slightly to 77.7% according to NYC Health data, an increase of 0.1% from the week prior. Citywide, nearly 17.2 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered since the vaccine first became available.
Expanded data released this week focuses on coronavirus patients admitted to intensive care units (ICUs). According to NYS Health Data, COVID-19 patients that require more intensive treatment tend to lag behind the average for all hospitalizations. Newly released data on ICU patients reveals that the seven-day average of COVID-19 patients requiring ICU treatment rose in the week ending April 3, from 48.6 to 51.6. This suggests that the recent uptick in cases may have been driven by patients who experience more severe complications from contracting the virus.
Unemployment Claims Increase
Unemployment insurance (UI) claims rose in the week ending March 26, increasing by 280 claims from 5,280 to 5,560. This unexpected increase in claims has put the current figure above the 2019 rolling average. Despite the recent uptick, unemployment claims remain well below prior months and in line with pre-pandemic levels. Prior to this week, claims were considered “fully recovered,” with job availability and hiring having made a substantial recovery from the lows of the pandemic. However, employment gains have lagged behind the nation, as the city’s unemployment rate of 7% remains nearly double the national average, according to the NY Department of Labor.
Home Sales Rise Modestly
Pending home sales rose higher in the week ending March 26, increasing by 70 from 706 to 776. Pending home sales remain far above the pre-pandemic average, in line with the trend of surging home sales (and prices) nationwide. By comparison, the rolling average for the same week in 2019 recorded 431 sales, placing current sales roughly 80% above pre-pandemic levels. By borough, Manhattan has marginally outpaced Brooklyn, with an 85.1% increase in sales compared to 2019 levels, and a corresponding figure of 84.7% in Brooklyn. Queens currently lags behind its neighbors to the west, with a 58.7% increase, yet still considerably exceeding 2019 levels.
Rental Availability Declines Further
New rentals available on the market declined for the second consecutive week, albeit more modestly, in the week ending March 26. The number of available rentals fell by 75 to 12,781 units, a smaller decline relative to the 537-unit decline recorded over the prior week. The Rental Subindex remained effectively unchanged at 78, suggesting availability is about 22% below the pre-pandemic level. The decline in rental availability is likely unrelated to the pandemic, and more in line with the current high demand for housing nationwide, with limited supply exerting upward pressure on real estate prices. Declines in rental availability during this time of year are atypical, and likely the result of national housing market trends.
Subway Ridership Stagnates
Subway ridership for the week ending March 26 was effectively stagnant, remaining 40.6% below pre-pandemic levels (compared to 40.4% during the prior week). Subway ridership has been severely affected over recent months by the omicron wave, and ridership has been unable to exceed November 2021 levels. Total ridership still lags 2019 levels by millions of riders, and the return to pre-pandemic figures will likely be prolonged and gradual. Figures released by the MTA recorded a seven-day trailing average of 2.82 million riders for the week ending March 26.
Restaurant Reservations Experience a Setback
Restaurant reservations declined slightly, following a large weekly gain during the previous week. With this week’s decline, restaurant reservations fell from 39.5% to 40.5% below pre-pandemic levels. The Restaurant Reservations Subindex remains at 60 out of 100, meaning reservations remain 40% below pre-pandemic levels. Along with subway ridership, restaurant reservations are one of two categories lagging pre-pandemic levels by the most considerable amount. As with subway ridership, the omicron wave heavily affected the city’s restaurant industry, as the past several weeks have only returned reservations back to pre-omicron levels. The arrival of warmer weather and the return of outdoor dining over upcoming weeks may be a sign of encouragement, as is the easing of vaccination requirements that took effect in early March.