Editor’s note: Below you’ll find the week 114 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published November 8, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.
New York City’s economic recovery backtracked slightly for the week ending October 29, 2022, as the aggregate index score dropped one point to 76 out of 100. The city’s COVID-19 hospitalization rate fell slightly, but remained at an elevated level compared to recent months. Unemployment claims also declined, though not as significantly as during the same week of 2019. Home sales had a major dip, falling below a full recovery for the first time since July, while rental vacancies remained relatively unchanged. Subway ridership and restaurant reservations both experienced modest gains, with the former edging closer to its previous high.
New York City’s economic 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. Over two and a half years into the pandemic, New York City’s economic recovery is just over three-quarters of the way back to pre-pandemic levels.
COVID-19 Hospitalizations Decline Slightly
The COVID-19 hospitalization rate in New York City declined slightly for the week ending October 29, with an average of 111 people hospitalized daily, down from 114 in the previous week. The current rate is well above a recent low of 73 daily hospitalizations set during the weeks ending September 10 and September 24.
The CDC continues to project that 100% of current cases are omicron-related. As of November 5, the BQ.1 subvariant now accounts for the largest share of cases, at 28.8% of the total. The once-dominant BA.5 strain has receded and now accounts for under 25% of new infections. The BQ.1.1 strain has grown rapidly in recent weeks and now accounts for 23.5% of the city’s current cases.
The share of fully vaccinated New York City residents continues to edge higher, with 79.9% of the population now fully immunized, according to NYC Health & Hospitals data. Since the start of the pandemic, the city’s health authorities have recorded nearly 2.96 million cases—confirmed and probable, along with 42,935 COVID-19-related deaths.
Unemployment Claims Edge Lower
There were 60 fewer unemployment insurance (UI) claims filed in New York City for the week ending October 29, with the total number of claims falling from 5,660 to 5,600. Meanwhile, the 2019 rolling average of claims, which tracks the calendar-equivalent pre-pandemic week, fell by a significantly greater 454 claims and totaled 5,133. As such, UI claims are now roughly 9% above their pre-pandemic level for this time of year. Despite being short of a full recovery, UI claims are not substantially elevated and remain within reach of their pre-pandemic rolling average.
Home Sales Plunge
Pending home sales throughout New York City experienced a major dip for the week ending October 29, with the home sales subindex now 2.4% below its pre-pandemic rolling average. As a result, home sales have now fallen below a full recovery for the first time since July. Rising mortgage rates nationwide could be the culprit for declining home sales in New York, as demand from homebuyers wanes in the face of higher costs. If mortgage rates continue on an upward trajectory, it could have negative consequences for the city’s real estate market in the weeks to come and beyond.
By borough, home sales in Queens now far exceed those of Manhattan and Brooklyn with respect to percentage gains from 2019 levels. Home sales in Queens are 11.8% above their pre-pandemic rolling average, while sales in Brooklyn and Manhattan are now 1.5% and 7.6% below their pre-pandemic baselines, respectively.
Rental Vacancies Rise Marginally
There were 16,032 available vacancies on New York City’s rental market for the week ending October 29, recording a gain of 57 compared to the previous week. This week’s minor gain had little impact on the rental inventory subindex, which remained at a score of 87 out of 100. This week’s increase in vacancies defied seasonal trends, as rental vacancies typically decline in late October. This may be an encouraging sign of gains to come over the coming weeks.
Subway Ridership Trends Higher
Ridership levels for the MTA subway rose for the fourth consecutive week, with the seven-day ridership average increasing to 33.7% below its pre-pandemic baseline, from 35.2% below last week. As a result, the subway mobility subindex score rose to 66 out of 100, with ridership at roughly two-thirds of its pre-pandemic level. On average, the MTA reported 3.22 million daily riderships. Subway ridership posted solid gains throughout October, which could foreshadow further gains throughout the remainder of fall.
Restaurant Reservations Extend Gains
Reservations at New York City restaurants rose for the third straight week, with the trailing seven-day average of reservations rising to 31% below its pre-pandemic baseline, from 32.5% down last week, resulting in the restaurant subindex score hitting 69 out of 100. This week’s result marks the best for the city’s restaurant industry since early July, when levels hit a high water mark of 25.4% below pre-pandemic levels. Continued momentum over the remainder of fall could send reservation levels to a new high for the pandemic recovery thus far.
All of the nation’s biggest metros experienced large gains in restaurant reservations throughout October, with the exception of Houston. From October 1 to October 29, reservations at Chicago restaurants rose 10.4 percentage points, while those in Washington D.C. gained 4.8 percentage points. New York City and Los Angeles restaurants recorded slightly more modest gains of 4.1 points and 2.3 points, respectively. Meanwhile, reservations at Houston restaurants declined nine percentage points over this period, but remained comfortably above their pre-pandemic rolling average.